There is something that has been weighing on my mind since the last day of April this year. It was the night before a race, and although it was a major event in my life, I opted to put it on the back burner to think about at a later time. I was focused on my race.
I have posted my story here several times in several different ways. Anyone who has read that knows that I had a child when I was 15 years old. She was a girl, and I gave her up for adoption at that time. They took her away at birth and I never even got to hold her. That might have been the most acutely heartbreaking thing I have ever experienced.
Let me hasten to add that I have no regrets about the decision to place her for adoption. I never have. It was 1967, I was 15 years old and unmarried. In 1967, young women simply did not raise children by themselves. And for me, and this child, this was a good decision. Both of our lives would have been a living hell. I know this. She was adopted and raised by a "nice" family. She has had a life of privilege, which I could have never provided for her. Amazingly enough, they named her "Mary."
I always intended to find her after she turned 18. I waited, year after year, for the day I would find her. When she was 18, I was one year sober. I wrote a letter to the agency who had placed her. Forgive me if I don't now remember all the details, it was 26 years ago. I don't remember what exactly transpired for the two years before I heard from her. But I do know that the agency had contacted her to let her know I wanted to meet her - and her mother hid the letters. She didn't want to lose her baby to some stranger who happened to have given birth to her daughter. Bless her heart. Seriously. However, when Mary was 20, she told her mother she was desperate to meet her "real" mother and was going to start looking for me. Her mother came clean at that time and told her I was looking for her.
When I was sober about 3 years, I got a letter from the adoption agency. It was a letter from my daughter - including a photograph! In the letter, she thanked me for giving birth instead of having an abortion, she thanked me for taking good care of myself during my pregnancy because she was very healthy. It was more than I ever dreamed. We wrote for a while and then decided to meet each other. The adoption agency urged us not to do this. We scoffed at such silly advice!
On one fine Saturday morning in October, 1988, I drove to the airport to pick her up. She had flown to Denver. I stood at the gate waiting for my daughter, who I had never laid eyes on before, to walk off the plane. It was absolutely astounding when we met. We hugged and then just stared at each other. She stayed the weekend with us (me and my three children - her half-siblings). She was not impressed with me or my lifestyle. She didn't think much of the way I was raising my children. She didn't approve of much of anything that weekend.
To say it was unpleasant would be an understatement.
We stayed in touch, on and off, for a couple of years. She started drinking in that time. She told me she could finally understand why people drink alcoholically. Then she disappeared. I couldn't find her. I would try from time to time to find her, but I absolutely could not. I thought she might be dead - knowing of the horrible genetic legacy she had received from both her father and myself.
In February 2009, I got an e-mail from her. She was remarried and had a new last name. She was living in essentially the same place. She had three children - two of whom she had given up for adoption at birth, but was now very much in their lives. She had always known where I was, but was waiting for me to contact her (?). We talked on the phone for hours. I discovered she has a problem with alcohol, drugs, and some mental illness. I was still thrilled to be in touch with her. She was anxious to talk with my other children.
I broached the topic (which isn't really that pleasant) with my sober daughter. Her reaction was sort of lukewarm. I was waiting for a chance to talk to the other two, when again, Mary disappeared. Well, I thought, I am not going to go through all of this heartache for someone who is going to disappear.
A few months later, I got an e-mail telling me that she and her 18 year old daughter (one of the adoptees) were going to be coming to town and they would like to stay with me. Honestly, I had no idea of what to do! Obviously, I talked to my sponsor all through this, and several friends as well. I finally wrote her an e-mail and told her I would love to meet her somewhere - somewhere neutral. But I wasn't ready for an in-home visit. I also confronted her about her unpredictability and told her that I wasn't willing to disrupt my family if she was going to disappear. Her response to that? She said she was "predictably unpredictable."
To me, that was pretty much a middle finger to the relationship. She also sent me several e-mails that were downright offensive. She insulted my church and several other things she knew were important to me. We talked a few more times. She texted on holidays. Always "Hi Mom!!! Happy _____!!!" Frankly, I wasn't even comfortable about being called "mom" by her. She had a mother, and it wasn't me.
Then on April 30 of this year, I got three texts from her:
"I thought it over and this is the fakest relationship I ever had. Please do us both a favor and forget I'd ever existed. I'd thank you for life itself, but the fact is there weren't a real lot of options in 1967. Enjoy your "real children" and don't bother responding. Oh, I just realized I'm flattering myself. So, yeah, save it. I'm absolutely positive Jesus would advise you similarly. Best wishes to you and your REAL family for a happy, and wonderful life filled with lovely memories."
My first thought? I wanted to text her back and say: "as you wish." But I left it alone.
I could see that she is hurt and angry. And probably drunk. I thought the tone of that text was just nasty and hateful.
I know I am being pragmatic, but honestly, I believe I honored my commitment to her 44 years ago when I gave birth to her and then ensured that she would have the family that I could not provide. I cannot go back and change that - and even if I could - I wouldn't.
I never responded. I will respect her wish that I leave her alone. I honestly wish she didn't know where I live. I hope she will leave me alone.
And somehow that just seems really wrong. But I can't see it any other way.
She is right, I have a "real" family. I have real children, now adults, who I have raised. They are good people. They do not play games or do shitty, nasty things. We treat each other with respect. I am not willing to jeopardize that - not for anyone.
So, now you know the REST of the story....