It was my daughter’s wedding day. And though all weddings are special, this one was extra-special. The church was beautifully lit by candles as I walked down the aisle first and took my seat up front so I could watch everything. Then our beautiful daughter walked down the aisle into the arms of the wonderful man who loves her unconditionally. But my daughter wasn’t the only special one who walked down that aisle. Her four-year old daughter, whom she had placed into a loving, adoptive family, swished down the aisle as one of her flower girls, big sash flouncing about.
Just five years ago, our daughter had been away at college and made some choices she knew she shouldn’t make. As a result, she became pregnant. She knew her life had gotten off track, and she would be the first to tell you that she knew this was her moment to step up. Returning home, she sought guidance on the best thing to do for her baby by talking to some really great counselors who helped her understand her options. Through much prayer and searching, and letting us listen to her heart, my daughter chose to place her baby with a loving family that was specially prepared for her little girl. For her, having both a stable mother and father was very important and she very much wanted that for her baby.
My daughter and the adoptive family have chosen to continue the relationship in an open adoption. The adoptive parents share with their daughter freely about her birth mommy who still loves her so much. My granddaughter knows her birthmother took special care to place her where she would be loved and cared for in a way that my daughter could not. They live far away, but we do see her from time to time. We receive pictures and love to hear about her dance lessons, fascination with volcanoes and many other things that the family wants our daughter and us – her other grandma and grandpa- to know about.
But that’s only part of the story. I said today was extra special. Today, I also watched my own birthmother walk down that aisle. You see, I am adopted, too, just like my granddaughter. I grew up in a loving family who also told me how loved I was and that my birthmother took such special care of me, placing me in a family that would love me forever. So, I watched as my birthmother held her head high (which wasn’t always easy for her during the past forty-six years) and walked down the aisle of her own granddaughter’s wedding, with her great-granddaughter carrying a tiny bouquet down the aisle. She sat right next to me, the daughter she placed for adoption so many years ago.
I was born at a time when all was kept secret. No one could know. My birthmother’s family even sent her away to have her baby. There was so much shame tied in. She was engaged, and when she became pregnant all the dreams began to fall apart. But she, just like my daughter (her granddaughter!), did something so beautiful and amazing. She placed me into a home where she’d been told “they are very nice people.” And really, that’s all she knew. Risking it all, she placed me into the home of what were truly “very nice people” where I lived my life, always knowing that I was adopted and specially loved, but not really knowing anything about my birth mother or father. And she went on with a life that wasn’t very easy at times. She always wondered about me. Depression would sink in -especially around my birthday. Guilt, sadness, pain. She wondered if I was angry with her for what she did.
Our reunion after forty-six years was so amazing. I’d left my name at an agency years ago that facilitates reunions in case any birth family was ever trying to locate me and then left it in God’s hands. The agency didn’t search. It was just a way to link people together. I’d never wanted to intrude into anyone’s life, and so many years had already passed. Sadly, my adoptive parents had already passed away, but Istill had a loving family and many other family members around. I did wish that I could tell my birthmother “thank you” and let her know that I’d had a beautiful life and was happy and grateful for what she did, especially when it wasn’t an easy time to do such things. Thirteen years passed and I figured it was not to be. Then one night I got a message from the reunion agency bringing such wonderful news into our lives. She was looking for me! I could finally look my own birth mother in the eye, hug her and tell her how beautiful she made my life.
So, we sat together at the reception. The birthmother I’d met for the first time a year ago joined me and my husband, along with family and friends. She watched. We watched. Our daughter was glowing as she danced with her husband. Her daughter was twirling on the dance floor and her adoptive family was laughing as their girls danced around the floor, too. Friends of ours leaned over to my birthmother and said something very special. “Do you see all these people here? Over three hundred people – both family and friends – are here today because of you. You made a difference in so many people’s lives and you just never knew it.” She knows it now.
Adoption – or should I say Love – has touched us all. What a day! No, what a life!! You should see our wedding pictures. They are truly extra-special.