Assembling Self

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

40th Birthday Card from my Mother

In 2000 my mother and I exchanged non-id letters through the adoption court.  Mostly, we described ourselves and our lives, our likes, our habits, and our hobbies.  In that first letter I told my mother a handful of things like I enjoy collecting baskets and shells, I loved to garden, and especially loved writing.  And, my favorite color has always been green, the color of both of our eyes.

She responded back to me which I blogged about recently  It was heart wrenching but her words were beautiful and her message heart felt and honest.  I told the CI her letter was the greatest 40th birthday gift I could even imagine receiving.

A month later I received an envelope from the adoption court and opened it to find a card inside.  The front was green, the color of our eyes, with a basket full of ivy, shells, flowers, with a pen and a pencil laying at its side.  I looked immediately on the back.  It was in fact a Hallmark.  It was signed “Happy 40th Birthday.    Love your Birth Mother”.

Overwhelmed would be an understatement.  I thought of the amount of time it took her to sort through cards to find the perfect statement she wanted to make. It was so much more than “Happy Birthday” or “Thinking of you” it was “I was listening”.  Which translates to rejected adoptees as “I care, I paid attention, your words were important.”  I didn't get much of that in my younger adopted life.

Unfortunately after that, communication was shut down by her and it's been twelve years since I have had any news or mail from her with the exception of one updated family medical request.  She had requested time to tell her immediate family and close friends about me.  Obviously something changed her mind, much to my devastation.

I have kept hope alive in some capacity all of these years.  I think it's self preservation.  Confronting the truth that I have been abandoned by two families is just too much for my adopted mind to grasp.  My search information is posted and easy to find.   I wonder if she has looked up adoption reform work as I had told her I was involved in it. I pray someday maybe there is another mother who speaks to her of her own relinquishment, and can get my mother to open up about hers.

Fifty two years have passed and the shame and stigma of a pregnancy out of wedlock still hold so much power over people.   We lost each other that long ago because of adoption.  We've lost decades of knowing one another and her allowing me to know my siblings.  I'm about out of hope that will ever change.


  1. Oh how I wish that I knew your mom ~ I would be more than happy to talk to her and tell her how freeing it was to finally live in the truth.

  2. A personal Hallmark card on your birthday :), no matter how many years ago, is still more than some of us will ever be able to receive from our mothers. For me, your mother's silence again speaks volumes about how much guilt and shame she possibly still holds onto. I wonder sometimes what my mother would write in a birthday card if she was still alive. And, "What would I say back?" I love you Karen!

  3. Shame is hard to let go of. I wish I could but I can't do it. Strangers raised my baby. They did a great job and that does make me feel a little better but in a strange way it also makes me feel like how come she is a good student and my sons struggle? Adoption destroys our self esteem and how we see ourselves. I hope your birthmom can open herself up for contact so you can get to know her. Until then hold onto that card and hope it helps.

  4. it's a awesome information sharing your mother. i wish your mom. thanks dear for sharing.
    40th birthday card