August 22, 2015 by Renee Griffin
When Susan Mead asked me to be part of her *Dance With Jesus: Birthday Beach Bash & Blog Tour* in honor of her son’s birthday, I instantly thought about how difficult this day must be for her.
Every year since losing her precious child, she faces the day he was born.
Birthdays mark specific moments in time when a new life emerges and days began to be counted. With each passing year, we stop and celebrate the space of time we have enjoyed life with our loved ones.
Losing them doesn’t change the marking of time.
For families who have lost loved ones, birthdays still cycle through the calendar.
We still celebrate their lives, but also face the reality of their deaths.
As an adopted child, my birthdays were filled with a different reality.
While those around me celebrated my life, I struggled to accept the emotional death of separation from my birth family. I faced a grieving process, too.
In my mind, I knew my biological family was somewhere, and in my heart, I wrestled with the fact they were lost to me.
If you’ve read my story, Eyes Of A Stranger, you know God miraculously allowed me to locate and reunite with my birth family twelve years ago. Since my adoption reunion, birthdays are brand new. I am one blessed chick. However, there are many other adoptees facing birthdays without knowledge of their biological roots.
This past March, adoptees in Ohio, who like me didn’t have identifying information about their birth families, were given an amazing opportunity. According to the Washington Post effective March 20, 2015, approximately 400,000 adult adoptees born between January 1, 1964 and September 18, 1996 gained access to their original birth certificates.
I watched one Ohio adoption reunion after the new law went into effect on abc.com. It was powerful. While I identify most with the emotions of the adoptee, the reaction of the birth mother broke my heart.
(If you’d like to watch the video, and you’re sure you have plenty of tissue or at least a roll of paper towels, click here.)
Birth moms who gave up babies during that particular time did so in a culture of shame. So many women today endure private struggles as they face birthdays of children they gave away in secret adoptions. Many of these women carry private, traumatic pain over the loss of their children.
Toby Mac has a digital poster with important words. “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” It’s a valuable thought.
We just never know what the woman next to us has been through or is walking through; like my precious friend, Susan Mead. Susan is so full of Jesus, I would have never guessed the pain she’s endured until she told me her story.
Talking with her is life-giving, and you walk away smiling. She’s a light, a bright spark, a beacon shining Jesus to everyone in her path.
She’s also a woman who’s walked through a mama’s worst nightmare. Her joy is found in the One Who carried her through the tragedy of losing her sweet boy. He carries her still through every birthday she faces.
That’s what Jesus does.
Everyday, I am surrounded by women. I’ve lived long enough to know many of them are in pain, and yet they keep smiling as if nothing is wrong.
Some know Jesus.
Can I ask you a favor?
Tomorrow when you go though your normal routine, would you make a choice to gaze a little longer at the women passing by?
Let’s be on the lookout.
Let’s keep our eyes open for women with glimmers of pain in their eyes, and reach out with the love of Christ.
If you find someone, trudging her way through valleys of grief, be brave and reach out.
Let’s take time to discover who she is and hear her story.
It could be the day we open up, stretch out a loving hand, and really listen closely is the birthday of someone they lost, and our time and attention becomes a sacred gift.
(Susan graciously provided two copies of her book, Dance With Jesus, for me to share. Just leave a comment below, and I will enter your name in the drawing for a chance to win.)