Some of you may be thinking that each of my moms, first mom, Caroline, and (adoptive) mom, Sharon, should each get their blog post. I considered that, and yet they are a complimentary pair, and with my high needs, I have needed both of them to mother me. Over the years, I’ve learned much from both of them. I am grateful that they are both faith-filled women that love God and have prayed me through my life. Due to age, culture, experience, they also have many differences. One of the greatest gifts they have given to me, is their love and acceptance of each other. My mom, Sharon, was responsible for my earliest impressions of Caroline. Without a trace of negative judgement, Sharon told me about my first mom being a young, unmarried teenager who loved me so much that she gave me life, and gave me up, so that I could have a start in life with two married parents, who loved each other, and had jobs, and love for me with less struggle than a single, teen mom could have provided in 1978 with limited family support. Sharon NEVER spoke one ill word about Caroline. For those of you unfamiliar with the insecurity of some adoptive parents, this is a very big deal. Even when I was a young child, Sharon was paving the way for Caroline to come back into my life someday and find love and acceptance. This is truly a magnificent gift that Sharon gave Caroline. Perhaps it is because Sharon herself is an adoptee, or because she has a Masters in Social Work and worked in adoptions for many of her years. Or maybe because she has the biggest, loving heart of anyone I have ever known. While Sharon was realistic about the possibility that it might be hard to reunite with Caroline, she always encouraged me. Whatever insecurities that Sharon may have had (maybe there were none) about sharing me with a stranger, Caroline, she never spoke of them. Other people, my brother included, got worked up on her behalf, but she always reassured me and said it was ok. My emotional struggles, many self amplified, created an atmosphere in which our home resembled Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. Drama queen would have been an accurate description. Both of my parents tried to encourage me to participate in counseling/therapy and pursue pharmaceutical assistance for my heartaches. My parents never turned their back on me. Not when I took their station wagon and drove to San Jose, CA from Portland, OR. Not when I yelled, screamed, slammed doors and was hateful. There was no end to their compassion, forgiveness and commitment to being my parents, despite the fact that some people might have felt that I was someone else’s crazy as I wasn’t flesh of their flesh.
When I was 18 and was able to write to the Commonwealth of Virginia to request to be reunited, it was Sharon who reminded me the time had come. She was excited with me as Caroline was located and we began the process of connecting. Sharon helped me pick the photos to send to Caroline. It was a roller coaster of emotions. If my mom, Sharon, was jealous or hurting, she never showed me and was my biggest supporter and encourager. There wasn’t a manual on how to behave in such a huge life event. We all winged it. I do know that when Caroline flew to Portland to meet me in person, Sharon was there in the airport with a sign that said, Welcome Caroline. (I know this has left an impact on Caroline.) Through some rocky times, my mom, Sharon, counseled Caroline on how to have a successful relationship with my volatile self without paying too high of a personal price. She told Caroline something along the lines of “just because she (me) is creating a hurricane, it doesn’t mean you have to get in with her!” While my mom, Sharon, could have rejoiced that Caroline was back to be the whirlwind’s mother, she actually mothered Caroline some as well. Instead of leaving us to our own to try to navigate our tumultuous reunion on our own, Sharon was the translator, supporter, cheerleader and mother of reason. As I was growing up, I did not appreciate, nor was appropriately grateful for all the crap my mom and dad went through with me. It was Caroline’s comments about my behavior and her example of gratitude for them, that softened my heart for them. So you see, I have each of them to thank for showing just how much I gained from the other.
Early on in my reunion, I was drawn to Caroline in a way no words can describe. In looking to find our similarities despite the culture clash, I rejected many things that I’d learned from Sharon, or ways I favored her. I was in an epic battle with myself and the world around me, in a quest for identity. Trust me when I say, having an identity crisis is not a cliche’ to take lightly or make fun of. In cleaving to Caroline, I rejected Sharon for some things that I labeled uncool or too practical. (I’ve since seen the error of my childish ways. I am proud of the ways I am like Sharon, my best friend, whom I idolize.) It was fascinating to find healing in our similarities, body shape, handwriting, preferred hobbies, emotional behaviors and a myriad of other things. It is easy to recall the discoveries and emotions of our reunion 18 years ago. As the years have gone by, Caroline has reminded time and time again to respect my parents. Welcome advice that has changed my life and relationships with my parents. The geographical distance between us, for me, is the biggest challenge I face in our relationship. She reminds me to bloom where I am planted. We’ve both come to realize that what we have to offer others is so similar, that being in far away ponds, our ripples can reach more people, without overlapping. I could not be more grateful for the people in her life, her husband, Brian, my brother, Wayne, my sisters, Krista & Melissa, my aunts Lee and Elizabeth, her soul sister, Bernie, Tammy Kling, all the WER riders and friends, Jeremy, Natalie, Pam and the others I’ve failed to name, that she has introduced to my life. It is richer and filled with more love, because she welcomed me back and has loved and embraced me and expects others to do the same.
There are fewer Mr Toad’s Wild Ride moments, now that I am a 36-year-old, married, mother of two with a 15 year career as a Certified Medical Assistant. Rather than asking anyone to get in my hurricane with me or need either mother to bail me out of crisis, I manage daily life, even the dramatic things, pretty well on my own with my husband and therapist. I enjoy sharing my challenges and triumphs with my moms. I do turn to them for counsel and support but most of all their prayers.
This has been the best Mother’s Day I can remember. I am happy and enjoying a healthy relationship with both of my moms. Their love for me is a blessing that I acknowledge every day. My children feel their love that has been passed along through me.
Dear Lord, Without both of these moms, I would still have needs. However, these two incredible women, together have taught me to embrace your love and live a life of gratitude, counting my blessings and letting you carry me when times are hard. Thank you for giving them to me. Amen.