I've told you everything from my conception thru my birth mother Lillian's relinquishment of me for adoption, thru my time at the orphanage to my adoptive parents, my upbringing, my search for my birth mother, my reunion with my siblings, my wistful yearning every birthday and Mother's Day to know all the what/when/why/wherefores of my history. You probably know more about me and mine than you do about you and yours! There just is nothing left to tell.
Some of you have said you hope I found peace at the end of this journey, in finding out so many details about my birth mother, the adoption, my time in the orphanage. And I have to honestly say that it was never about finding 'peace'. It was about finding those details, facts, documentation, good or bad. It was about filling in the blanks. And, because of Kraig, almost all of those blanks have been filled in.
I've always said that what I missed most in my life was knowing the pure love that a mother has for her child, the kind I've only experienced thru my love for my own daughter. I know now that even though she never even held me, despite taking over two months to sign the relinquishment for adoption papers, she did want something better for me than she could provide, and that is love. I think that knowing this will soften the image I have of her as the alcoholic who eventually lost her other four children due to alcoholism and neglect, at least in regard to her relationship to me and my life. My conception may have been an accident, but the decision to give birth to me and to give me up to the hope of that better life was from love.
I've always wondered how an orphanage could not have known about my adoptive mother's instability. And I know now that they did recognize it...just too late! I'm not sure exactly what she did to get noticed other than appearing flighty, or why they let it pass, but it was what it was. I certainly never expected to find so many written details about her in the orphanage records, though I had always said that there surely must have been records somewhere about the process. I think I expected generalizations, not detailed descriptions of visits.
Something about my whole story that still surprises me is this: (1) My birth mother named me Linda Irene. My adoptive parents named me Linda, not knowing that was my birth name. (2) My adoptive mother's name was Irene. (3) My birth mother became an alcoholic and neglectful mother who lost her other four children. My adoptive mother was an alcoholic and neglectful mother who lost me. I don't believe in destiny or fate, but...seriously? What are the chances?
Truly, the most amazing part of this whole journey of the last year is how it happened. The lady who flagged Lake Bluff Orphanage, who put my original adoption post in the Lake Bluff Gazette? She knew that Kraig was doing research on Lake Bluff Orphanage because her daughter had him as a coach. What are the chances of that happening? And this random alignment of events brought this awesome man into my life. I cannot say enough about him without totally embarrassing him (which I already did by saying he was cute as the dickens), so let me just say that he is honestly one of the most interesting, kind, and empathetic people I have ever met. He not only went over and above in finding out all this information for me, but he did the research and took the journey with his heart.
I can't begin to tell you how much it has meant to me to have you share the written part of this journey with me, much of it while it was happening or shortly thereafter. It was a lot of reading, but it was clear from your comments that you really read it, instead of just skimming through it as sometimes happens when a post is too long. Often, your comments helped me sort thru my own feelings about what I had just written.
My main goal was to get all this written down for my grandkids to be able to read someday, but I hope one of the side perks will be that someone will read my story and see that anything is possible, at any age! Whether you're 16, 26, or 62, being adopted comes with built-in frustration of not knowing facts and faces. If they are interested in looking, in finding out more about their beginnings, then I would say to at least give it a try. I've had several people contact me by email with their story of being adopted, or knowing someone who was adopted, and I tell them that every story has a paper trail. Sometimes all it takes is one person to give one little tidbit of info that will lead to those dusty boxes of records hidden away somewhere. Mentioning names and places in a blog doesn't hurt either, because you just never know who will be reading!
I'd like to end this with an email that Kraig sent after he had been here with his treasure chest of information (or, in this case, a pink birthday bag):
"As I read your blog, you stated about the information that "most was good" (news). So I wanted to share with you what I took from your story.
Your birth mother, Lillian, to me, made the ultimate sacrifice. You had put in one of your blogs that it was a "no brainer", based on her home situation, to give you up. I hope after reading what you now have, you realize how untrue that was. Despite her situation, she was severely conflicted, so much that it took her 2 1/2 months to finally decide what to do about you. In a world where babies are sometimes found abandoned in dumpsters or on the door steps of fire or police departments ... I hope you realize how much she cared about you. I've seen many adults who put themselves first before their kids. Teenagers are even more self-centered because they're not emotionally developed, nor do they think about things in the same way an adult would. The fact that this teenager was able to process her decision, more rationally than some adults, I find pretty amazing.
And based on what I brought to you, I hope you know how much the people at the Lake Bluff Orphanage, in particular Katy Patterson and her staff, cared for you. I'm sure based on the fact that Katy's daughter said "you couldn't help to get attached to the babies, especially the ones that were there for a month or longer." When she said that, IKNEW that you were well received and probably talked about on a daily basis by them in trying to find the right home for you. And it was obvious the case worker, Miss Fox, truly cared about your mother, and you too.
It's easy for us to think of our parents as what they "became", because often this is only what we were able to witness first-hand. Sometimes this is a depressed middle-aged person, or a drug or alcohol dependent person. And this is obviously what your mom became along her life path along with some other problems as she grew older. But as I read the report, I didn't see her as that person, because she hadn't become that person yet. All I saw was a naive teenager who made the right choice to better the life of her daughter.
The line that get's me each time is when she said she wanted to know the information on the adoptive grandparents. She herself had little home-life or any kind of contact with grandparents. And that she stated several times that she never had a place to bring her friends. Had she brought you home to Texas, and the unstable life that awaited you there, it is in my opinion you NEVER would've become the person you are today. I feel the main difference on this was your adoptive father. It was obvious to me from the reports about Tom Ecklund that he cared enough about you at the time of your adoption to gain custody of you later. I can't necessarily say any parent figure on Lillian's side was going to provide that for you.
So, in summary, because of Lillian's mature, unselfish and rather visionary decision, you now today are able to have the relationship with Lillian's great-grandchildren, Conner and Garrett, that she hoped someone would have for you. And I think THAT is what's the best thing to come out of all this. Kraig