The woman who showed up in our lobby to talk about open adoption was someone we’d not seen in well over a decade, so “long time no see” was about the only greeting that seemed to fit, as we struggled to put a name to the face.
“Do you remember me?” she asked. We knew we knew her, but we couldn’t place her, exactly, until we’d sat and talked, and fed her, and did some catching up.
The newborn she’d once placed for adoption here is now about to graduate from high school. The birthmom has been in touch with the adoptive family occasionally, when she initiates contact. But she hasn’t seen them in years (nor have we.)
“I was wondering if maybe you have some pictures of her I could have?” the birthmother asked. We immediately pulled our annual report files to check for any mail waiting for her over the past decade or more.
Despite being an open adoption agency, Abrazo still asks all adoptive families to keep sending in annual reports until each adoptee turns 18. (Now you know why.)
Catching Up on Years Past
There’s a reason it had been just over a decade since we’d seen her last.
This birthmother had previously returned here, one time. It was about 4 years after her first placement. She was pregnant again at the time, and asked about placing here once more.
We tried to help her. In the end, though, she got lured away by another local agency that offered more financial help but required no counseling. That unethical agency didn’t do open adoptions, so the family is unknown to her, and the agency went out of business just two years later.
After that, she was too embarrassed to come back and tell us what she had done (and where.) As a result, she now has little chance of finding out how that child is doing. She can only hope that daughter is well. She feels guilty about having entrusted her child to someone she can’t even locate now.
Life has not been easy for this woman, that much is clear. Child Protective Services took her other kids away. Drugs led to prison, not once but twice, and now, she’s trying to rebuild.
Long Time No(w) See(n)
This birthmother knows all her children (both those she placed, and those she lost) will discover the facts about her history one day. She isn’t proud of her mistakes.
Yet she certainly doesn’t count any of her kids among those, nor the adoption choices she made for two of them. And although none of her children have had the lifelong access to her that they deserved, she’s still grateful to their parents and caregivers for loving and caring for her children when she could not.
We asked what drew her to stop by today, of all days? She said she’d been waiting at the bus stop across the way. She remembered all this place had meant to her all those years ago, and figured she’d still be welcome. And she was right.
Because for all the years gone by, no matter how much water is under that bridge, we still remember her love for her baby and her sacrifice on that child’s behalf. We hope our adoptive family does, too. And we’ll do all we can to help reconnect her with them and with her daughter.
Come Back Soon
Before she left today, we gave her one of the shirts from our Birthmother Homecoming this year. This lady truly is made of soul, after all, as are all the birthmoms we’ve been blessed to know.
She left today promising to come back soon, and we hope she will. She has a good heart and she’s walked through fire to make it back. And we’re proud that she’s (still) part of the Abrazo family, as we are of all the birthparents we serve.
Following her visit, we spotted her across the street, waiting for a bus home. We knew it was her by the bright pink heart on the shirt she now proudly wore, the one with the words “Made of Soul” across her heart.
“Out of sight” never means “out of mind” around here. We hope all our clients always know this– no matter how “long time no see.”