Friday, June 24, 2005

Fathers and Daughter: a poem

This is a poem I wrote shortly after I heard that my birth-father was looking for me. I included it in one of my letters to Ben, and gave one to my dad:

Fathers and Daughter

Two men worry;
Who will take care of her?
For her, I can't wait!

One was the first to hold me--
The other--to nurture and mold me.

Memories of my dad…
Waking up early in my
Little white pajamas
Scurrying to his lap.

Watching his smoke
Dance in the morning light--
Feeling so safe.

The other man-
What did he do?
Who did he have to hold?
What made him feel safe?

My dad-
Proud of everything I do.
Loving me.

I could go on forever
about great memories of Dad.
But I have to thank the first,
for giving me the second--
This great life I've had.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Thank you for Giving Me Life

This is the letter I put on file at the agency, in case my birth-parents ever came looking for me:

Dear Wonderful People,

I want to thank you so much for giving me life. So far I have had an incredibly wonderful life thanks to your deep love and unselfishness. There is so much I want to tell you--but it all boils down to THANK YOU--because I have truly been blessed.

I supposed I should start at the beginning. After I was born I was sent to several doctors because I had a birth defect in my neck and they were trying to figure out what could be done. Then--on a hot summer day--my parents came to get me. I became part of a caring, loving family. My parents were able to massage my neck back to normal. We discovered in my pre-school years that I also had a severe hearing loss in one ear, probably connected to the other defect. The doctors operated when I was five, but my hearing is still the same. To me -- it’s normal.

I remember a childhood filled with beautiful memories. I am a middle child and I love my siblings very much. I have always been very outgoing and got involved in everything. I loved camp in the summers and I have always been interested in animals and nature. All this time I knew I was adopted. I knew ever since I can remember. And it’s a very neat thing. I don’t look at it as someone didn’t want me -- In fact, I know that someone loved me so much that they wanted me to have a better life than they could give me. I also recognize what a fantastic thing it is that my parents wanted me so much that they went through several interviews and a year of waiting to get me.

Yes. I wonder what you look like. Yes. I wonder if I have other siblings out there. Yes. I wonder what you’re like and the circumstances in which you had to give me up. But to be honest, I don’t think I ever want to meet you. You have gotten on with your life and I have gotten on with mine. I must admit, I have fantasies about what you’re like--and you probably feel the same--but I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for reality--sometimes it doesn’t work out like our fantasies.

I do want you to know that I think about you often. I devote part of my birthday to thinking about you, because I know you’re thinking about me, and somehow I feel connected to you. I am now happily married to a wonderful man and I look forward to having children someday. Who knows? Maybe we’ll adopt!

Please let us know if there are any medical concerns that we should know about now or in the future. I thank God you made the right "choice," because as far as I’m concerned, there is no other choice. I’m proof. Thank you very much, I’ll always love you for this great gift of life with such a wonderful family.

Love, Me
A year later my biological father sought me out. I kept my identity a secret, using the adoption agency as a go-between.

Note: The first 11 comments below (through 8/16) were in response to a previous post called "No Reunions Please," which was about why, in general, I didn't want to reunite with my biological parents (Pandora's Box).

"Awed & Pleasantly Overwhelmed" letter from Bennett

This letter was written by my birth-father after he read my original "thank you" letter, and had heard from the agency that I was open to corresponding with him.

My Dear Daughter-

I received a letter from Joan Wilcox today, explaining her contact with you and enclosing your letter of March, 1992. I am awed and pleasantly overwhelmed. Thank God for life and for the sensibility and sweetness reflected in your words. How kind of you to have written in the past, and I hope you can forgive me for not "reaching out" before. With my chaotic life's history --my drinking and unreliability--I never felt stable enough to justify a possible intrusion in your life. And while we have never met, I am acutely aware of how moved I am. Yes, I always thought of you on your birthday too, and I had fantasies as well--"how is she, is she well, does she drink? Does she resemble her mother and me? And so on…

Let me say at the outset that I will totally respect any decision you've made about not wanting to meet me. My first thought about this was "after all, a father in prison!" But from Joan's letter it sounds like that per se is not a problem. I don't expect you to understand this at this time, but, in a nutshell, I robbed a bank in order to be locked up for a few years so I would not drink anymore. It seemed the only sane option left to me. Fortunately I have two loving sisters, a father and a few close friends who know about this and support me. My sister Kathleen will be here to visit on Sunday--she is a Licensed Social Worker (L.S.W.) and works mainly with senior citizens.

At any rate, I don't even know what happened to the money from the robbery. I was drunk at the time and probably lost it or got robbed myself. I pleaded guilty in Federal Court and here I am for a few years. I have been sober one year now--the longest in my life. I'm enrolled in a chemical dependency treatment program here in the mornings, then I work as a file clerk in the business office in the afternoon--a pleasant atmosphere. I continue to look at my time here as an opportunity to learn how to live sober. We have a small but solid AA group here and my "cell-mate" and I have an evening Bible study with a few other fellows in our unit. I have long believed that my continuous sobriety would be based on my spirituality and improving my conscious contact with God.

My heart breaks that I did not find sobriety years ago--that your mother and I were unable to raise you as our daughter. She and I loved each other very much--it was quite overwhelming and traumatic for her. I don't know if you've ever had contact with her. I have not, since 1968. But, you may be interested to know; I can see a good deal of her reflected in your words. Enthusiasm, optimism, a "brightness'" as well as being bright intellectually. While I think of it, she had occasional migraines, but otherwise had good health.

As for me, other than my drinking I have basically good health--a little high blood pressure at age 50, but I must have good genes to have drank all those years and still be in pretty good shape. My sister Kathleen has a 45% hearing loss in one ear--she had surgery a couple of years ago--I think to implant an artificial stirrup--but still has the hearing loss, and now occasional tinnitus! My hearing is fine, but I've always been very nearsighted--have worn glasses since 2nd grade.

Wow--there's so much to say, but I'm rambling. Perhaps this is enough for now. I would like to write you occasionally, but will understand if you would rather I don't. Please understand I would never try to intrude in your life or do anything to upset you. I am just so grateful a loving family adopted you, and that you have been able to do well for yourself.

You are the only child I ever had. Whether your mother had more children later, I don't know, but you were her first-born. I was 25 years old. She was 23.

I'd be pleased to tell you more about myself, my life, etc. if you care to correspond. Maybe at this time we can follow the old AA adage of living "one day at a time."



"Me." That's how I signed all of my letters to my biological father. He never knew my name. And yet he gave me life. I was adopted. Some might say, "given up" for adoption. As a kid, I faced tough questions from other children like, "Didn't your parents want you?" Or, "Why did they give you up?" Fortunately, my parents (the ones who adopted me) taught me to view adoption as a positive thing. "Your birth-parents loved you so much, that they gave you to people who could better care for you," they'd say.

Oh, sure, there were times when I daydreamed that perhaps I was the illegitimate child of Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy. But, sometime in my teenage years, I looked it up--turns out I wasn't even born when Monroe died. And, since my parents got me when I was only six-weeks-old, it was clear nobody was fudging the records on my actual birth date. Still, it was fun as a kid to imagine that my biological parents were really significant people, and that some day we'd be reunited. As I grew older, I learned that they were significant people, but not because they were rich or famous. For a more important reason--because they did the most self-less, loving thing anyone can do for another. They gave that teeny, tiny baby--a baby they’d made out of love--to parents who could care for her. I am now a mom, myself. I get it. Once you have created life, it's hard to imagine ever letting it go, and yet they did. It was the ultimate act of parental love. They knew they couldn't give me the life they wanted to, so they gave me away, to give me a better one.

I have often wondered what the circumstances were. How grave their situation was, that they actually thought giving me to a couple of strangers would be the best thing for me. As an adult, I imagined more realistic scenarios. Perhaps they were homeless. maybe my birth-father never knew about me. or, worst of all, maybe I was the result of a horrible sex crime. Most children want to believe they were born out of love. I held on to that wish. Then just before my 25th birthday, I got a phone call. My wish was about to be realized in a way that I had never imagined. My biological father was searching for me. He wanted to meet me. The secrets surrounding how I came to be, were about to be revealed.