In legal terms, an adoption is a contract between a birth mother and a couple for the placement of a child. Regarding the heart, adoption is a partnership full of selflessness and love. My adoption, or partnership, was closed. In closed adoptions, the identity of the birth mother is kept from the adoptive parents and child. Quite honestly, the couple that adopted me didn’t really care who the woman was who was giving them the child. They were grateful in general but didn’t likely think too much about the huge sacrifice my birth mother had made for their benefit. But that was the beauty of a closed adoption; I was handed over to my new parents and we all went home as if the previous six weeks had not happened. I became Elizabeth Denise Williams and the last six weeks of my existence faded away and my birth mother was free to carry on with her life. A closed adoption facilitated this quite nicely but in terms of the heart, the partnership had actually just begun.
My adoptive parents wanted a baby to complete their family. They had so much love to give and could provide a home for a child who otherwise wouldn’t have one. My birth mother recognized that she could not give her baby everything that baby deserved. Although she had love, she did not have the home or structure that baby deserved. Thus, the partnership was born out of a legal system that allowed it. Both my birth mother and adoptive parents thought that would be the last time they all needed each other. They were wrong.
What they couldn’t possibly have foreseen was how my tenacity, curiosity and determination would one day force them to meet again. Once my mom told me I was adopted, I wasn’t unlike any other adoptee that was insanely curious about the birth parents. I focused on my birth mother because I only had information on her in the adoption paperwork. Once I was old enough and had enough money, I searched for her and when I was 30 years old, I found her. When I told my mom, I heard sadness and fear in her voice even though her words were telling me she was happy for me. I knew I would have to go above and beyond to make sure she knew that she wasn’t going to lose me to my birth mother. I was starting a new chapter in my life, my second birth with my birth mother. It was the second time we were meeting but this time I was aware. Our journey together began and I was very excited to get to know this woman who gave birth to me and looked very similar to me! Ironically, my work was taking me to Mobile, Alabama where she lived and I was born. This was a time of awakening and discovery for me but I also had to protect my parents’ and family’s feelings at the same time. It was hard. I could feel my mom’s jealousy because of the time I was spending with my birth mother no matter how much I told my mom that I loved her and she’d always be my mommy. Then I made the decision to donate my kidney to my birth mother’s sister and mom hit the pinnacle of her insecurities and fear. She wanted to go to the hospital for the surgery and I asked her to please not come. I didn’t want anyone there, except my boyfriend (now husband). I wish she had listened to me but in true mother-nature fashion, she decided to hit the road with my dad the day of the surgery. She was coming for me, but she would be meeting my birth mother for the first time. I knew it would be the wrong time so I stopped them from coming.
It truly tore my mom apart that I had told her to turn around go home. My dad said she cried the whole way home. I knew it hurt her; however, I did it for her and me. I knew that this was a time and situation where emotions were running high, and I knew my mom had been having a hard time with my relationship with my birth mother, so I did what was best for all of us. Afterward, I had a lot of work to do to patch things up with her. I wrote her a very sincere and heartfelt letter during my recovery and sent it to her. I’m so grateful she forgave me and our relationship started taking a turn for the better. They almost met at that time but little did I know the monumental moment was coming, and it was just around the corner.
The year that followed was great for me. I met an amazing man, my professional career was going well, and my relationships with my mom and birth mother were going very well. Five months after my surgery, my boyfriend proposed and we started planning a wedding! I knew right away I wanted both my parents and my birth mother to be there and of course, they both accepted the invitation. I didn’t have a wedding with my first marriage so I was excited to have my dad there to give me away and experiencing many of the other traditions for the parents at a wedding. I prepared mentally and physically for my parents meeting my birth mother and her husband, who thinks of me as a daughter, too. I was excited because this was such a positive time in all our lives and my relationship with my parents was so great. This was going to be the perfect time for these long-time partners to meet. I decided to host dinner at my house two days before the wedding. I was very nervous, not knowing what reactions to expect or how the night would go. I cooked chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes. I was frantically trying to get dinner prepared before everyone came so that I could focus on the moment when they all laid eyes on each other for the first time. My parents came first and sat at the table as I was finishing up dinner. Not too long after, my birth mother and her husband walk in the door. My steak was still in the pan, and I just stopped what I was doing to make the most important introduction of my life. I wish I could have frozen the moment and recorded it so I would never forget how beautiful it was.
It was very similar to the moment I met my birth mother, which was very calm and natural. They hugged, we all hugged, and they sat down while I finished cooking. It was finally time for us to eat and we all sat down together. Unbelievably, there was no awkward silence. I had no idea what to expect as far as conversation would go, but it started with a basic small talk and getting to know someone. After some time, I believe everyone loosened up a bit and my mom would recount stories of me growing up, which I think my birth mother appreciated. At the end of it, my birth mother thanked my mom and told her what an amazing lady she had raised. My birth mother gave my mom the recognition she deserved for being my mom. I think that is what my mom needed to hear. My mom also thanked my birth mother for her sacrifice, allowing them to have a little girl to raise with all their hearts. And there was the epiphany for all of us that although it was a legal contract that initially bound us, truthfully it was destiny and love that brought us all together in the end. We realized none of us would be where we are without any of the others.
They have remained in contact and become great friends. This is something I would never have seen coming. I would never have thought that my birth mother would be the one to put my mom’s insecurities and fears at ease. After I had tried for years, she is the one who did it! I feel that their meeting was critical to the healthy relationships we all have now. It turns out, adoptees aren’t the only ones who need closure.
Liz Story was born in Mobile, Alabama and raised in West Point, Arkansas. After a failed attempt at college, she joined the US Army and served as an intelligence analyst and Arabic linguist. After the Army, Story returned to Arkansas briefly and then moved to Florida. She went back to school and received a Masters in Business Administration degree and work as a business development professional in the defense industry. Story found her birth mother when she turned 30 years old, and donated her kidney to her biological aunt in 2010. Story shares that she has an incredible husband, step-son, and daughter and lives in the great state of Florida. Story’s book: “A Series of Extreme Decisions: An Adoptee’s Story” will be released around Thanksgiving 2013.
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