Friday, April 29, 2011

Triply loved.

It’s often said that adopted children are “doubly loved”. Once by their birthmother who not only gives them life but lets them go, and second by the family that adopts them.

This past weekend, I was given the chance to know that I am not only “doubly loved”, but really, “triple-y loved”.

And here’s the warning for people who complain I make them tear up without warning…this story had all of us in tears. So don’t say I didn’t warn you!

When I was born, I was placed with an adoptive family shortly after my birth. For whatever reason unbeknownst to me, I was ‘given back’ and the attorneys found another home for me. I was placed with my parents now…who the world knows as Tom and Karol Mauss.

Over the years, I have looked into my background to see if I could find my birthmother. In fact, when I worked at Merrill Lynch, one of my clients happened to be one of the attorneys who placed me with my parents. When I asked him about finding my birthmother or anything further about my past, he simply said, “Shelley, adoptions in the late 1970s were meant to stay closed.” As he knew the circumstances surrounding my adoption and my between-the-lines-interpretation heard “Shelley, just trust me and leave it alone”, I didn’t pursue things much further.

For my birthday last year, Jonathan requested from the courts all the non-identifying information about my adoption. I found out where Thomas’s blue eyes came from (my birthmother), and that I had four older siblings (who would now be 43, 48, 49, and 50). I learned about my birthmom’s education, her family, and a bit about why I was given up for adoption.

I had never been able to find anything about the family who I was first placed with.

So two weekends ago, we had just finished a tasty dinner at HopJacks and were home hanging with the Skis on the farm (who Thomas affectionately simply calls "UncleHeidi" -- Kevin and Heidi).

My Blackberry buzzed and I had a message on Facebook.

The ‘reader’s digest version’ of the email?

“My parents adopted a baby girl when I was 5. Based on your birthdate and name, I think that you may be the little girl that my parents adopted for a short while just after you were born…my mom has kept photos of you from the hospital and those first days in hopes to get them to you someday. If you would like them, just let me know!”

It turns out that Dodi (who would have been my older sister, had I stayed in their family) and I had mutual friends (thank you, Facebook, for bridging that gap) who I knew through St. Charles. After she called our mutual friend to double check that I wouldn’t think she’s nuts, Dodi sent me the email.

I woke up around 2 the next morning and couldn’t sleep, so I emailed her back. By 8 am, we had each called our respective moms to let them know that we had finally made a connection. I asked my mom what she thought – and she remembered the last name from the court date when I was just a few days old.

My nearly-almost-sister and I emailed back and forth over the next week, finally making a lunch date to meet at the Old House Café on Proctor on Saturday, with both of our moms.

Finally walking up the stairs to the Café to three big smiles (as I was the last one to arrive), there was an incredible peace that everyone had as we all hugged and teared up.

During lunch, her mom shared the story about my birth…how I was in the nursery at Tacoma General, and she was able to feed and rock me, beginning the day I was born. I came home to their house at three days old. As it turned out, the timing couldn’t have been worse for me to be placed with them on such short notice.

Ultimately, my potential adoptive mom decided that I needed a home that they simply couldn’t provide at the time to an infant with very little warning and without the necessary support any new mom would need who had endured significant change in the previous week.

And it was then that I knew what it felt like to be “triple-y loved”. 

This is what my own mom meant when she said, “Shelley, when we were in the courtroom on that day 33 years ago, she and I hugged and cried for both of us.  It was because she loved you so much that she gave you back. I can only imagine how difficult that was for her.”

We all sat at the table in tears. My mom recalled being at work at Tacoma General when my dad called, telling her they had a day to decide if they wanted to adopt "a little girl who had no prenatal care and had been previously placed but needed a home immediately". The next day they found themselves in court, meeting the parents I almost had, and then meeting to bring me home in the ‘famous pink outfit’ that I came home in. And I finally have a picture of it, from before I came home to my forever family.

I understood more fully why my mom always taught Mike and I to pray for especially for all of our moms, especially on the big holidays (Mother’s Day and our birthdays). Though they weren’t "in" our lives at the time, it was because of them that we had the chance to be a family.

Some of the parallels are incredible. My almost-sister and I lived a half mile apart in the north end for 7 years. Both of our moms both battled polio as young children. And all of us never forgot about the ‘other family’ out there, even though we didn’t know them.

It was one of those moments where you could absolutely see the hand of God at work in all of our lives…how each decision led us to where we were right at that moment.

As an almost-due mommy, knowing how it took us nearly a year to get pregnant and how painful it was to have test after test come back negative…to imagine trying & waiting for a child…only to receive a child and make the most selfless decision in the world to give her child back out of love…being able to meet my nearly-almost-mom was a moment I wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world.

And the joy of finding a nearly-almost-sister who we now affectionately call “my sister, separated at birth”.  I am so grateful to you, Dodi, for finding me.  And am so grateful for the chance to get to know you and your mom.

Many in our world would see my birth experience as a “doubly unwanted child”.

But really…I am so very, very lucky.

I was (and am) triply-loved.


Kate said...

What an amazing story!! Thank you for sharing!

KCina said...

WOW...I even waited a day to read this....still have water works running down my face. Truly awesome!! :)

Wish you all the best and lots and lots of prayers in the next few days as you, Jonathan and Thomas await 2.0's birth. Praying for a much smoother entry into the world for this little guy!

All the best my friend, can't wait for the happy news!

Hug - Kathy

Nancy E said...

Love this post! Catching up on all about you again.... :) Missed you and your writings..... love you so much and thinking about you today!

You are MORE than tripley loved my friend.


Unknown said...

Oh Shelley, that was so beautiful. Such a testament to God's Will for each of our lives.

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