I’ve been thinking about this project a lot lately – mostly out of guilt because it has been laying nearly dormant for quite a while now – and I know that it’s time to get back to the work at hand. I won’t bore you with the gory details of my hiatus, just suffice it to say that I’ve made some pretty big changes to my life and lifestyle in the last few years, and those changes have really monopolized my time and attention – in a good way. However, this morning, one of my daughters jolted me to action: she had posted a thread on Reddit about my Adoption Reunion and sent me the link so that I could reply to some of the questions. One of them really hit a chord with me:
Has the reconnection (with her birth family) caused any major changes mentally to your mom or grandma?
Honestly, it changed everything for me, in ways I never could have imagined. Every Thing. Clear down to my core self-image. I like who I am now. It sounds so silly, but that’s a big deal – to like the person you are, and not need other people to validate you, your abilities or your choices constantly. It made me so much more confident, and clear about who I am and what I want in this life. It’s been 7 years now since my reunion, and in that time, I’ve gained the courage to make some huge, critical changes in my own life. My daughter (who posted this thread) probably doesn’t even know how profoundly my reunion affected me, and consequently her and her sisters. I’m writing a book – working title is Little Circles.
There’s a lot more to my answer than that, but that’s the nutshell version. I know that it took me a number of years to be able to see the changes my reunion made to me, and likely I will continue to see changes as time goes on. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had this experience either, so I thought it would be good to pose the question here:
How has your reunion with your birth-mother/family changed you?
Teresa ~ 61.100508
I have to say that any digging, no matter how slight, into my adoptive past is usually done with an equal mixture of interest and dread. I have often thought about the White Shield home, imagining it as something along the lines of a dark, awful orphanage (think Jane Eyre). I imagined strict, nun-like disapproval of the young girls and women who found themselves pregnant and in need of a place like White Shield. However, I just finished reading your story about your visit, and it has eased a burden on my heart that I have carried for my birth mother.
I was born Mary P., (now Teresa) at White Shield in 1961. I was at the Home for three months before I was adopted, from what I understand. I always wondered if my birth mother and I were in the same building for at least part of that time.
I have always been grateful for my birth mother’s selflessness (hopefully by her choice, but most likely she didn’t have much of one), and guilty that she was forced (as she was from back East, I am assuming she was ‘sent away’) to spend her pregnancy and childbirth in a bitter, hostile environment.
To find out that she was in a place that, although not a perfect one, seemed to be at least not the awful, fearful place I had always imagined it to be is such a relief to me. Hopefully she made friends with some of the other young women there, and had their support and love.
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day – for adoptee, first parent, and adoptive parent alike, a day that stirs up a complex stew of emotions. It is also, coincidentally, my first mother’s birthday, and with that in mind, I thought it appropriate to share with you a little window into my own story – a portion of the first contact that I had from her, sent June 2, 2006 – shortly after my sister and I found one another. The subject line of her email…Checking In.
“Now how is that? Checking in. Like I have known you all your life. Knowing maybe not; but you have been with me all your life. You just didn’t know it.
… I am so thankful to know you are alright and that you have a good life. When I found out you were going to be born, the most important thing to me was that you had a wonderful, happy childhood, with two parents who would love you as long as they lived. I knew I would love you always but I didn’t know if I could give you that happy childhood so I did what I thought I could to ensure you what I had always wished I could have.
I remember just like it was yesterday, the day you were born and the 30 minutes they let me hold you before they took you away. You were the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. Like a porcelain doll. Your tiny hands and feet and your angelic face. You have always been with me…”
Receiving that email changed my life, and I am so grateful to my first mother for her inner strength and her kind heart, both of which I like to believe I inherited. I share this very private message with you today because I know that it is one silently repeated every Mother’s Day by thousands of birth mothers throughout the world. “You have always been with me…”
I wish you peace, hope and great love this holiday.
Renee ~ Founder, The White Shield Project
Share your story.
Stephen F. ~ 40.100416
I am trying to locate Martena Esther Jones (my birth mother) or my surviving siblings. I was born in the White Shield Home of Portland, OR on October 25, 1940, and my birth name was Philip Stephen Jones. At that time, Martena’s residence was listed as 305 E. 18, Salem, OR. She was 20 years old, and born in Seattle, WA. The 1930 census listed her as living in the residence of Archie and Louis Robbins, Caraline E. Close, Frank M. Cronn, Dorothy M. Cronn, Sylvia B. Cronn, and Joseph E. Cronn. I am looking to reconnect with my family.
Please forward any information concerning my family to 202 Bonham St., Nocona, TX, or my email address – firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Contact information is included with permission.]
Kym P. ~ 79.100130
This is a picture of myself [left, standing] and my daughter Amanda (who I relinquished at birth in April 1979) with her adoptive parents [standing], and my mother.
J.S.Z. ~ 30.091018
I believe I was kept at the Home longer than any other: I stayed there until I was 17 months old. Why I was never adopted out I will never know, but I stayed there in that nursery for nearly a year and a half; until my birth-family finally took me home.
The Salvation Army sent many letters asking for my family to come get me. One even said, “If (the child) is left here much longer, we fear she will be socially retarded.” Thankfully, that did not happen. On the contrary, I think I was given very good care.
When the event of ‘going home’ finally happened, instructions were to “be certain that (the child) has a glass of orange juice every day and takes her cod liver oil.” I have a small baby quilt some lovely woman made for me while I was there – it is the only thing I have of my time spent at WS, and I treasure it.
I returned to White Shield fifteen years ago. The place still haunts me. I have forced myself not to go back. I stood outside White Shield, looking up at the delivery room – I believe there were two – and thought of my mother, there all alone, no family or loved one with her, so frightened having a baby in her young life. My heart still breaks for her.
I have a letter written to my family just after I was taken home, saying how much ‘they’ missed (the child) in the nursery and how it seemed so empty without her, and how soon (the child) would forget all about them.
How not so! I will ‘remember’ as long as I live. I am so very grateful to be one of the White Shield children: they did so much for me.