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March 15, 2014 by Renee Griffin
The nature of an adoption reunion is all about perspective.
You cannot know what the others in the story are going through, have been through, nor how they have dealt with the past. I did my best to get a handle on how she might take the news of my return into her life. Of course, I had prayed for her. Probably, I had prayed that she’d accept me more than I prayed for the shock that hit her that day. I had done lots of research online and read many books and articles about adoption reunion. Not that any of that did any good… You can’t really study up for what was happening in that moment as my husband went to see her face to face. She was there talking to a complete stranger who had no idea about her perspective.
When I left off my last post, The Name, I was waiting at home in my tear puddle, hairs standing up on my neck, and my husband was inside an office building talking to my birthmother. He’d gone to the front desk and asked for her by name. The sweet lady at the window, who I’d meet later on, called her on the phone to see if she was available. Turns out my grandmother didn’t call to warn her we’d be coming. She agreed to speak to this random guy at the door and took him into a empty office as he told her he needed to speak to her privately. In her line of work, meeting with various unannounced professionals was not uncommon, so she didn’t immediately realize anything odd until he started to speak.
Since it’s just not polite to blurt out the obvious fact that he was there to on a search and rescue adoption reunion mission, he opened with telling her that’d he had just been on the phone with her mother. He assured her that everything was okay with her mom, as far as he knew, but he had been calling her mom in order to find her. Right to the point, he told her he needed to ask her a personal question.
As gently as he could, he asked her if she had given up a baby for adoption.
She said yes, a baby girl.
He followed with a few other questions just to be sure that she was the one.
How many siblings do you have?
Where was the baby born?
What was the date?
What was the name you gave her?
Every question got the right answer. Once he was convinced she was the right one, he gave her the news.
That baby girl is my wife.
In those 6 short words, “That baby girl is my wife.”, an emotional nuclear bomb went off.
I wish I had been able to be there to just hug her at that moment.
Of course, I would send the current me and not the hysterical, emotional, over ten years ago me.
Today, I could hug her and tell her that she was going to be okay. This is all going to work out just fine because today, as much as I can, I see this moment from her perspective.
This news that I had been fighting to find made contact with a precious woman who didn’t have the luxury of preparation.
This moment that I had been waiting for and planning for and knew was coming, was not on her radar that day…at all.
My perspective was one direction. Hers was another.
You see, way back when I was born, birthmothers were often told to forget about their children. It was a completely different time and culture. These young mothers were not given any future fairytale of reunion. The birth of the baby was for them the very end. Or so it was supposed to be. The adoption process was presented as the final chapter and these women were told to forget and move on with their lives.
You don’t have to have a PhD in psychology to know that isn’t possible.
Birthmothers don’t forget.
She didn’t forget.
She had carried me in her heart all these years, but…she was blindsided with news of my arrival.
I am so thankful she didn’t have a heart attack. I am so not joking when I say that either. Even though she never once forgot about me, she was not prepared for me to appear.
As my husband waited for his last sentence to register, she said she needed to sit down. Shock waves rattled her to the core.
Her first questions to him were to ask how I was and if I was okay.
A mother never stops being a mother.
She had never touched me. Not even once. And yet her first questions were all about my well being.
As I write this now, I am crying again. Somehow, growing up, I knew she loved me. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. How? Only God knows since He designed the heart. I just knew it.
In her shock and distress, she did the best she could to tell a brief story of how I came to exist. My husband had been given strict instructions to WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. I made that all caps on purpose because I probably did scream it at him. He isn’t exactly known for giving all the details. He is a big picture kind. I am a details kind. So I really, really needed him to write it all down. He promised me he would take notes, right???
As she talked with him that day, she told him about the circumstances of my birth. She told him about her family. He showed her a picture of me and she she said I look like her sister. If you read my post, The Name, then you know she gave me 2 first names and one middle name. Well, the middle name she gave me was after her sister. We share the same middle name. And we look alike. God works in mysterious ways, people. Her sister has always been her best friend. My sister, who has always been my best friend, has that SAME middle name. It’s spelled differently, but it’s the same name. It is a name passed down in our family and unbeknownst to any of us this name got passed down to me to in my birth family. Wow…
She explained also why she gave me my very first name.
It was because of him. My birthfather.
Here is the part where I am thankful that I didn’t have a heart attack.
You have to understand. I was never searching for him…my birth father.
I can’t honestly say why.
It was her I was after.
From my point of view, she was the only one I was looking for.
I knew he existed, and I wondered about him, but I was not driven to find him. The way I looked at it, if she told us about him, then I would be like Miss Scarlett and “worry about that tomorrow.” (Hope I quoted her correctly.)
God knew why she told us about him that day.
There were all kinds of big, important reasons why, and I could have never imagined it all. Thank The Lord that He doesn’t show us the future. Scriptures tell us that He holds the future, and it is for the best that He does. We cannot hold our futures. No matter how we think that we can. Our limited, self-focused perspectives blind us to the future ahead. It is better to let the One who wrote the future hold the future.
I am not going to write about many details of the conversation that took place between my hubby and my birth mother that day. The reason why? Perspective. In this story of mine, there are many different perspectives. In the weeks and months that followed, all these perspectives collided and I will be clinging to The Lord for His words as I try to write it all. I know she did the best she could with the shock rattling her soul to tell my husband her story that day and I am so thankful she did.
He called me as soon as they parted ways to tell me the details. I was white knuckle grabbing for those details, too, since I only had his eyes. I had millions of questions.
What did she look like? How tall is she? Do we look alike? What color is her hair, her eyes, does she have big feet, are her fingers long like mine? Tell me how she sounds? Is her voice loud like mine? Was she shy…ummm no… How did she walk? Were her steps fast or slow and methodical?
He described her as best as he could, but remember, he made notes. I treasure those notes he made. I keep that pamphlet he grabbed in her office to record only three phrases. ***sarcasm*** Here in one of the biggest moments of my life and he only wrote three details!!!!! I love him.
Anyway…She was my height with dark hair and eyes. He said she wore a lot of jewelry. Okay, so she’s got style. Yep, I guess that. She had on glasses. Check. She had a strong voice and walked with confidence. I think I know her…
His drive home that day was an hour and a half. We talked the whole trip. I had him repeat the same stuff over and over. Like a favorite book or movie, you just keep reading and watching again and again.
I wish I could say that from this moment forward there was a blissful tale of two hearts being melted into one and we danced off under a rainbow and everything was perfect from then on. If you have a pulse, then you know life isn’t that way…ever. We were people living life from our own perspectives. Yes, it was and is a beautiful story. I love her now like I loved her that day. But, God had a lot to teach me and show me over the upcoming months. What I thought was the final chapter was only the first.
One of my favorite Old Testament stories happens in Genesis chapter 16. If you are familiar with this passage then you know that God had given Abram a vision and told him that he would have many children. In chapter 15 God told him he what would happen. It’s all right there in Ch. 15 and yet, when the timing didn’t match up with perspective, junk went down.
Ten years had passed and no child had come so his wife, Sarai made a move. God’s promise didn’t change. Just like His Word, the Bible, doesn’t change. People change. Perspectives shift. Point of view recalibrates. Moves were made… This Egyptian slave, Hagar, becomes a “gift” to Abram.
Sarai says to Abram in chapter 2…
“The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said.
Would be so easy to jump on either of these two with judgemental words or ideas as to why they took matters into their own hands. But then, I do plan to look in the mirror today and well, I am afraid I may see the pot talking to the kettle…
God said a child of promise would arrive. He never said when. He just said it would happen. And these two, much like me, decided they would have to help God out. And here in the middle of their plan comes an innocent slave girl. She’s not a part of the vision God showed Abram and yet here she takes the starring role.
There are so many lessons to be learned from this passage about taking matters into your own hands, adding to or taking away from God’s plan for your life, not being moved by things you can see, etc. etc. etc. But I want to draw your attention to one particular scene that happens in Genesis chapter 16.
Hagar has fled into the desert after she’d been given to Abram to be another one of his wives. She has become pregnant with his child, and then she starts being nasty somehow to Sarai (my interpretation) as the verses says she “began to despise” her. Sarai whines to Abram about it and he says…umm, no way chick. You did this to yourself. I was just willing. You do whatever you wanna do.
Or…. Genesis 16:4 6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.”
Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
Okie dokie… Abram ain’t takin’ the blame. Sarai ain’t takin’ no lip. Hagar is done with both of them and out the door she goes. The passage in Gen. 16 picks up in verse 7 when the Angel of The Lord finds her in the Desert of Shur.
“7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur.”
The angel asks her two questions. It’s the type of question you see several times in scripture. It’s the question of the obvious. He asks her…
“8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
Where have you come from and where on earth do you plan to go from here? Now, he knows the answers to both. So, why even ask???
Here is this innocent bystander who got dragged into somebody else’s drama. She became the wife of a man she didn’t choose. Got all uppity with the main wife, Sarai, and then SHE gets mistreated. What? That is some messed up junk. And the angel of The Lord wants her to say where she’s been and where she is going.
…”I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
Scripture only records her specifically answering one of his questions. She admits where she’s been, but is sort of unclear on exactly where she’s headed. I don’t know for sure what went down between Hagar and Sarai. Us girls know how quickly things can get stirred up between us especially when men are part of the mix. But, mess around with my kids? Things will get serious. Depending on which side of this drama you are standing determines your perspective.
Then God shows up.
Thank The Lord that He shows up. I have messed up more than my share of situations and been out crying alone in my desert place, and He showed up every time. Why?
He wants to change my perspective.
We can get all caught up in emotions. It’s our nature. Emotions are powerful. They can twist your insides to the point that things begin to seem like something they are not. And here in this place is right where God shows up. Check this out…
“9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.”
10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
11 The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael,[fn] for the LORD has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward[fn] all his brothers.”
The angel of the LORD breaks down the situation for her. He lays out all the facts. No drama. He tells her that she has to go back because really, she wasn’t supposed to leave. He gives her a promise and then dips into the secret things like the fact that her baby will be a boy and she will give him this certain name. And then he says…”for the LORD has heard of your misery.”
The LORD has been watching. He’s been listening. He has heard EVERTHING you have gone through. And He sent me here to say these things to you.
Hagar, you MATTER! God sees you. Isn’t that the most incredible thought? That God Almighty saw this nobody. This discarded, rejected, mistreated slave girl was valuable in the eyes of God.
Our God runs after those who run away.
Her words to the angel of the LORD always choke me up. She called Him, El Roi.
13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
Her perspective CHANGED!
She stopped looking at her situation, her problems, and instead looked up to see the One who was looking, really looking at her. I wonder if that is why God tells us to Love Him first above all, but then immediately follows with “love your neighbor as yourself”. He knows us! If we could ever get ahold of loving our neighbors as much as we love our own selves???? Whoa, we could change the world for Christ.
He knows that we have to keep the right perspectives. We have to fight to keep our eyes on HIm and off of us.
Otherwise, drama happens.
Drama was about to happen in my story too.
My birthmother, like all birthmothers I would guess, had carried a lifetime of hurts in her heart. Giving up a baby for adoption is one of the most painful, life-changing, selfless acts of love that exists on this planet. This wonderful life that God blessed me with started with her gift. That gift cost her. While I know that she has always loved me, and she always will, she had more than I can comprehend to deal with the day I came back into her life. It would take time for this news to become real for her. I tried to be patient, but I didn’t do very well.
It would be months before we looked into each other’s eyes. God allowed for me to go through my own desert time while I waited for the day I finally saw her face to face. Like Hagar, this deal was not going down the way I had imagined. And the God of the Old Testament, the same God of today, provided a spring for me in the desert and taught me to look to Him. With all this new information that I was processing, God showed me that my perspective did not matter. It was only in the Light of His Word that I would find healing for my soul. It was not my story that mattered. It was what He was doing through my story that mattered.
When my husband left her office that afternoon, he gave her his work number to call if and when she was ready to talk to me. It would be days before she called. Bless her… Her world turned upside down. Mine did, too.