Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences and perspectives.
By Dayna Farr
My birth mom loved me so much she sacrificed her own happiness to give me to a family that could provide the kind of life she was unable to at the time of my arrival. She did it because she loved me and I always felt her love, just as I felt the love of the mother who raised me.
My parents gave me great perspective of the path that had brought me to them and I am often reminded of how wonderful it truly was. It had taken years of interviews, meetings with countless social workers and background checks on everyone they had ever known before they received the call their bundle of joy was waiting for them.
They had almost given up hope. It was the day after the election and my poor mother had been up all night counting and recounting ballots. Her eyes were practically swollen shut and her much needed slumber had been interrupted by a ringing telephone. She was so tired that she abruptly answered it, but her tone quickly changed as she was told their baby was finally here.
She then called my father who immediately locked up his business and raced home. I met my new family on my third day of life and coincidentally, my maternal grandmother’s birthday, so it was impeccable timing. There is so much joy and happiness associated with that story and I never get tired of hearing it.
I don’t remember a time I didn’t know I was adopted. My parents were extremely open and honest with me. They set the tone of gratitude which in turn gave me an open heart and a greater compassion for people in tough circumstances.
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I always wondered about my biological family, who they were and what they were like. I don’t think I felt like I didn’t belong any more than any other awkward kid trying to make their way through the world. But like everyone I had struggles, which at times had to do with the fact I was adopted. So I grew and learned and I now perceive it as one of the greatest gifts of my life.
You really don’t know and cannot even comprehend how much emotion you can have for another human being until you have your own child. As my eyes gazed upon my perfect little daughter for the first time, it was like a lightning bolt hit my soul and I got it.
In that brief moment I finally unequivocally understood how much both my mothers loved me and I knew one day I had to find my biological mother, if for no other reason than to thank her for a beautiful life.
Ten years and another sweet daughter later, I finally got up the courage to file the court papers to open up my records. My parents were a bit hesitant, but they warmed up to the idea. Given nothing but a name, my best friend and I frantically searched for and ultimately found my birth mother.
Her name was Lil and she welcomed me back into her life, as did my brother, sister and countless relatives. To say it was amazing is the biggest understatement there ever was. She was part of my life for many years.
During the past few years I have helped care for my father, as his health has been failing. Two weeks after making the heart wrenching decision to put my dad on hospice, I got a text from my sister Shawnee explaining that my bio mom Lil was in the hospital.
A few days later Lil and I were able to FaceTime and she gave me her prognosis. My heart sank and it felt as though someone had punched me in the stomach. She asked me if I had any questions and assured me she was at peace with it, although I knew she wasn’t and neither was I. All I could think was that we needed to make the most of the time we had. And we did.
Lil had gone to stay at my sister and brother in law’s house, so we all congregated there or at the hospital, whichever place the doctors told us she needed to be. I took days off, called in sick and spent as much time with her as I could. Her room was consistently full of visitors and there was laughter and joy sprinkled with the occasional tear or two.
Every time it came up, we told the story -- our story. With each explanation of our relationship, I seemed to get the same stunned reaction, they were always surprised I was there. The same question, spoken with exorbitant confusion and befuddlement on the face of the inquisitor.
I would then explain, this wonderful woman, my first mother had sacrificed so much for me to have a beautiful life. It was my job and my honor to help care for her in the last days of her life. Our hospice clergy was actually moved to tears and then explained her father had given up a son as well, so it gave her hope for her own family.
I heard constant apologizing from Lil and she was absolutely embarrassed because illness is not pretty, nor comfortable, and I would reassure her that this is what your children do. I knew that she would do it for me, so I was happy to do this for her.
One particularly rough night she called me to the side of her bed. She told me to take her hand, to look into her eyes and to tell my mama I forgave her. She went on to explain that she didn’t want me to feel like she had chosen my siblings over me.
My heart shattered into a million pieces. With tears streaming down my face and a huge lump in my throat I explained that there was no reason for forgiveness. I really owed her because she had done so much for me. She had selflessly put her own feelings aside to do what was in my best interest.
I told her I loved her, my children loved her and that my parents loved and appreciated her too. Sadly, I knew this day might come. I was hoping against hope that we were past this and our reunion had paved the way for forgiveness, because it was not me that needed to forgive her. She needed to forgive herself.
Parenting on its best day is all about being insecure and feeling guilty, especially for those parents who have had to make the difficult decision to place their children for adoption. I am forever thankful to have not one but two women to call mom.
My sister and I each held one of our mother’s hands as she took her last breath and went to live with the angels. Fourteen years with your biological mom isn’t enough, but what amount of time could possibly ever be sufficient?
So, now I will mourn her the way she mourned me before we reconnected. I am certain the extreme heartache and loss I feel is just a fraction of the pain she endured and I am grateful for the selfless love she gave me.
I spoke at her celebration of life. As friends and family -- both biological and adopted looked on -- I talked about Lil, my mom, and I ended with this. “You have a piece of my heart and I have a piece of yours. Always have always will. And I will carry it with me until we meet again. Love you. I’ll see you on the flip side.” And I blew her a great big kiss.
Gratitude, love and forgiveness are the fundamentals of life and seem to be a resounding theme in every adoption story. I always felt lucky to be adopted and to have such a unique family, but this summer I found out how truly blessed I am.
Dayna Farr is a middle-aged mom of two wonderful, smart, beautiful grown women. She has a great son-in-law and two of the most amazing grandchildren anyone could imagine. She has had a blessed life and it began with adoption.
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Carrie Goldman is the host of Portrait of an Adoption. She is an award-winning author, speaker, and bullying prevention educator. Follow Carrie's blog Portrait of an Adoption on Facebook and Twitter
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