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Friday, April 15, 2016

Great Expectations (Part 9)

Why tell this story?

Here it is 26 years later. Looking back, crises doesn't seem so bad. In fact, it turned out quite storybook. So it would be easy to romanticize, to gloss over the bumps and bruises, the crying, the stress, the anguish and uncertainty--for us and those close to us, our families and friends. Time, though, works its magic, it smooths out the rough edges, takes the stink off a bad deal.

They say forgetting is a blessing, an survival mechanism that eases our suffering. A brain wash that dulls the pain. Case in point, when Heather got a tattoo several years back, she insisted it hurt worse than childbirth. I was there for both of those events. The baby hurt worse.

Trust me.

So why tell this story? I'm reminded of a cancer survivor that spoke about all the life lessons that were inherent in her struggle, the leaps and bounds of spiritual growth, how it renewed relationships and let the sun shine again. When asked if she was glad she got cancer, her response was curt.

Oh hell no.

We were once invited to tell our story to a youth group. It was a few years after Michael was born. By that time, the dust had settled and we were in a better place. Our presentation was upbeat and positive. Michael was a beautiful baby in a great family and we unwittingly made it sound too easy, too wonderful, too... Look what we did with an unplanned pregnancy, we made a beautiful flower, turned lemons into lemonade, ain't life grand?

Some of the parents wanted to see more remorse and less hey no problem if you get pregnant, there's always adoption. And I totally get that. In a lot of ways, we were lucky--lucky Cathy and Wayne were solid, lucky to have each other, lucky to have supportive parents. Maybe our message needed to be, perhaps, a little less rosy.

But we were happy. Happy for Michael, for Wayne and Cathy.

When we were older, we addressed adoptive parents about our experience, in particular the open adoption aspect. Some parents are wary, and that of course makes sense. Our experience provides a glimpse of what it can be, how healing can take place for everyone involved. Adoption is sometimes referred to as the third option. That's last place. It's frightening. Scary as hell. Will there be regret? Will something go wrong? There's a lot of unknowns, and that scares the shit out of us. So yeah, I get that. Completely valid fears, all of them. Like I said, we had some luck fall our way.

So why tell this story? Because it's about what's possible. Because it wasn't until recently--26 years after Michael's birth--that was a felt sense of closure. I don't think we realized we'd reached that juncture until after it happened.

You'd think a sense of closure would've occurred with all the birthday correspondence, or when Michael sent the email with our secret password. Or when we reunited downtown. Turns out, it happened a few weeks ago.

In New York City.

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