Monday, December 27, 2010

A Birthday Message - A Letter From a Daughter

The story I tell is as old as time, and something I only found the courage to tell in the last couple of years, as "pro choice" seemed to be the banner of so many politicians. And I am going to tell it each year at her birthday time, at the urging of a fearless, teddy bear loving young redhead who looks just like me. She sent me a poem called "two hearts" in the mail, and urged me to tell my story so that a young woman, perhaps reading this blog, might see it and make the right choice.

I was a teen, just starting college, when I found out I was pregnant. I remember hanging up the phone in shock and just opening up a book I was reading. Was it raining? Was the sun out? I don't remember, but the day was ordinary. It usually is when your life changes. Most people aren't really doing anything noteworthy when the carefully guarded and fragile pieces of their life shatter with something they never expect.

I was not the face of teen pregnancy. I was from a sound, middle class Christian home, with loving parents who had adopted me as an infant and provided time, morals and balance in my early formative years. My Mom left a career in law enforcement to be a full time mother, and did so with the values of generations. I was the girl who still wore dresses to school long after everyone wore only jeans, and didn't mind. I was a straight A student, a volunteer, an Honor Society member.

And I fell in love. With the breathtaking tumble that you think you'll only experience once in your life and grab onto like a lifeline. He was older than I. We'd met in a summer college classes I took in addition to my high school ones. We talked of my finishing school, getting married, taking on the world by storm. I didn't tell my family of my feelings. Did it mean that they were not there to listen? Did it mean they were too busy? No, I was a teenager, and at that age you don't tell your parents everything, nor do you make the best decisions, even with the best of parenting. And one night, just one time, I listened to him and not my upbringing. I made the wrong choice.

When I told my love I was pregnant, I expected he would marry me or at least offer. I would be legally an adult when the child was born. He did not. He very cruely and coldly shoved enough money in my fist to "take care of the problem" and then shoved me out of his life. I thought I was part of his dreams and plans and then suddenly I was alone and all that remained was huge question of where this new destination in my life would take me.

I expected a firestorm at home. But I did not get it. I knew my actions had created great disappointment but it was not shown to me. Only love, and support.They could have sent me to stay with relatives out of town to be more discreet about it. They did not. My Dad simply said. "I know you will make the right decision about this" and gave me a big hug.

I was only a teenager. I was scared and angry at myself as I first prayed "oh please don't let me be." I had not known with certainty that life itself lay embedded in each single, shiny moment. I had not grasped the mystery of how miracles duplicate, be they moments or cells, or of unforeseen healing - forgiveness flowing in to what had only held anger and hate. In all those years I went to church with my parents, I had sung a hundred old hymns and loved the music, but had not yet known that in my own flesh I would see that which is consecrated. I was, I am, we are all destined to die—but just as surely to participate in our role in the creation of hope.

And she was born. I had prayed that it would not happen. Now someone new and beautiful lay sleeping, dreaming new dreams all her own. I really didn't know how lacking in hope I had been until then. And the event that I had prayed would not take place became my greatest accomplishment and her small being , my biggest act of courage.

That act of courage involved a couple who had been on a waiting list to adopt a baby for 7 years, and had pretty much given up. When my doctor told me of them, the woman being related to one of his staff, the answer to my huge question was just a feeling, one of actual hope and a sense of meaning. When that is what's going on inside, you know you've finally seen your destination come into view.



It's almost never where you expected it to be.

Several months and 34 hours in labor later it's over. I called my love, not expecting anything, he'd already signed the consent for adoption papers, the decision was made. I simply wanted to inform him of the birth . I was told that he was in love with someone and was going to marry her and don't ever call again. At that point, tears drying on my face, one of the nurses came to my room to see me. I'm not sure what to say to her and she sits down and softly starts humming a little song.

If you go down to the woods today,
You're sure of a big surprise,
If you go down to the woods today
You're better go in disguise,
For every bear that ever was there
Will gather there for certain because
Today's the day the Teddy Bears
have their picnic.

I smiled and hummed along, her hands clasping mine. Then she leaves, with my life. I am determined to be strong, smile, not say goodbye. Never goodbye. The big beige door swing shuts behind them. Then quiet. My Dad comes and tries to talk to me of hope. He talks of being brave, and the past and a future and urges me to leave with them to the cabin for a few days. My emotions are rumblings, faraway thunder, eclipsed by the lightning bolt urgency of others You can't leave alone, no one told you that you could love anyone so much. You're going to gather up whats yours and go home.

But I'd made not only a decision, but a promise, and I leave with my loving and forgiving family, with my empty arms and heart. Some people are less than kind about my decision. Many thought I should be a single mother, when as a young student, I had no way in which to provide. It would be a two job, no father, kind of life that didn't provide for a child. If I left school, all I could probably get after our local employers massive lay-offs in the area, would have been a minimum wage job, even less of a future for us. The option of living off public assistance, suggested by several, was never considered. Surprisingly, many thought I should have had an abortion. Apparently abortion in was more acceptable than adoption for a few pro-abortion folks verbally vilified me for "giving your kid away like it was a puppy", harsh hurtful words.

But my decision was as difficult as anything I have ever done in my life, any such decision is, and for people to openly judge that decision was a cruelty that only honed my pain to razor sharpness.


In time there was a shift, a lightness, undetectable to everyone but me, and I could finally sleep without tears, and I knew I would be forever changed, but I would survive.

All I had was a faint memory from the delivery room of sweet baby smell and red hair. It was an open adoption so I knew where my heart was at. So many times I would have given my life just to just fly there and sit by their house, to watch and breath in that life. But I made a promise to them, and my word is my honor.

There is an imperceptible pause of a life in the moment between the event and the moment of the knowing. After it's happened but it hasn't been formed into words.The click between one life and another.The phone rings early and I'm sleeping so soundly I think it's in my dream. It's for me. . and it's a hesitant. . . "hello. . is that you?".

In talking, for hours, for days, we discovered that we are alike in so many ways. A mirror image of me but with her parent's heart and laughter. We love steak, macaroni and cheese and books. We loved "Princess Bride", "Firefly" and "Red Dwarf". She loves the outdoors in which I breathe.


We owned almost all of the same books.


As we went through the process of becoming friends with each other and I heard in detail the wonder of those happy, secure early years growing up, I was amazed of my role in this. When I met her Mom for the first time, she grabbed me in a big bear hug, openly crying and thanking me for my gift of "our daughter". Moments like that are what makes life real.

When she graduated at Boston University not so long ago, a National Merit Scholarship winner, I watched quietly from the crowd as a guest, with as much pride as any parent there. I treasure my family and her family is as dear to me as my own. But when holidays roll around and I am often alone, my joy is occasionally bittersweet and the reality of what I had to give up stirs in my heart. The mother daughter bonding, girl scouts, camping, that first prom, all of which I only experienced in my heart's longing.
But she is in my life now, with her parent's blessing. Small precious moments, sharing with someone so like myself, yet living her own dreams.
Some people may say I didn't do the right thing. But I did. For my precious child, I did the absolute best I could. But it is not society's or the media's role to judge my decision. And it certainly is no reflection on the kind of person I was at 18 or what kind of parents I had. We make our choices, we make decisions, good and bad, and if we have any strength of character, we own up to them, and try to make them right.

I have a letter from a daughter, wrinkled and stained with tears, that bears witness
to this truth.

51 comments:

BK said...

-sniff sniff- oh great, as if I wasn't already congested enough! Seriously though, this has got to be one of your best posts yet.

Mike said...

Brigid,

Old Nowegian guys never cry. Well, maybe if they lose that big Muskie they've been trying to get for years or someone scratches their motorcycle. So, it must be dusty in here. That must be it.

Stunningly beautiful. Deeply moving. And, don't tell anyone that an old Norwegian said that. It would ruin our image.

Thank you.

SWModel66

Jim said...

You did well. You don't need me to tell you that, but I stand by it.

Jim

Eric said...

You have done well. Your inner light is shining through your words.

Verification: fluff

Hat Trick said...

Brigid,

You are awesome. It seems my allergies are acting up too.

Also I'd like to wish Brigid, Jr. a happy birthday too.

Keads said...

As often happens, life derails the best of plans. God bless you for what you have done. I will not speak of similar decisions I have made so long ago with equal import to my life now in retrospect.

I can only say that yes, sometimes being the "Gregarious Loner" although with many benefits seems so empty at this time of year. I often think of the life that I could have lived and the person I could have become.

No regrets. It is what it is, and it must be so to keep ones sanity.

God bless you and yours this Season!

stopsign said...

Your story touched my heart! Thank you for sharing it.

Wraith said...

Wow. Just...wow.

Sometimes, the most difficult and painful decisions lead to the most spectacular results. You did a brave and wonderful thing, and the world is better for it.

(But I'd still like to kick your 'love' squarely in the junk.) ;)

Casey said...

I envy you your relationship, and am glad you made contact with your daughter.

I myself was adopted way back when. Only then, there was a good old boy network, that handled things through lawyers, without even filing legal papers. The only thing I've ever found out about the woman who gave birth to me, is that she was sixteen at the time, and I have her hazel eyes.

I've always felt an emptiness that I tried to fill with various things because of that I think. Having children of my own has lessened that to some extent, though has probably given me a more negative view of she who gave me up.

I'm glad you've been able to establish a relationship with your daughter, and am envious of that.

As many others have mentioned, I need to go grab a fresh beer, mine seems to have become a bit watered down, and slightly salted....

Casey

Leslie said...

Thank You.

john bord said...

.

diesel smoke said...

Brigid
You are a treasure. I come home from work just read your blog.
I too am have a bit of trouble with the crying.
Must be the irish in me.
Fellow wingnut

diesel smoke said...

Brigid,

Old irish guys have trouble with the crying to.
You are a tresure, never think you did the wrong thing.
You have a treasure in you daughter.
This is the thing that the pro choice morons will never under stand.
I come home from work just to read you. You bring out the best.

Thanks you from fellow a wingnut(third gen).

julie said...

I remember this story. I'm glad you've shared it again. This time, having a little one of my own, now, it hurts just to imagine being in your shoes back then. And yet the beauty that came as a result...

Thanks, and happy birthday to Brigid Jr.

Joshkie said...

Brigid - "Apparently abortion in was more acceptable than adoption for a few pro-abortion folks verbally vilified me for "giving your kid away like it was a puppy", harsh hurtful words."

Few things make me see red anymore, and its usually when I'm cuaght by surprise. Not even at the part with the loser boyfriend did my demon show its head; as, you where better off with out him if that was any indication of his character.

Those that value life so little make me want to lash out or writeoff humanity, but that is looking at only half the story; as there are people like you who give hope that all is not lost with the world.

I did not shed a tear as life is what it is , but I wonder do those that make the other choice, the easy choice, realize that they steal a spark that could make the world a brighter place.

I thank you for the reminder and making the hard choice.

OrangeNeck said...

We are the sum of our life's experiences and yours added up just fine.

Jon said...

I've read this story at least three times now over the past couple years and each time I come to the same conclusion.

People who think you didn't make the right decision, and the right decision for you *and* your daughter those years ago are mad. You are quite a woman Brigid - and I am certain the same can be said of your daughter.

Mac from Michigan said...

And like the other posters, again, you really got to me this morning.

I hope you've got someone to give you a big hug and hold you tight on her birthday.

Don

The Old Man said...

God bless you and yours. I only know you through your blogs, but have always had the feeling that you were an exceptional soul. Thanks for reinforcing that thought, as well as showing me your heart. Posts like yours are the reason that the 'web cements unmet friends and lovers to each other.
Someday we'll meet and I'll see the envelope surrounding the lady that loves Barkley and her life. Until then, remember that there are those of us who treasure your life, outlook, and writings. May you have a safe and Happy New Year.

Please post the recipe of what you'll make for New Year's. The other recipes have been exquisite, and I have no doubt you'll at least equal them.
Thanks for displaying your core...

teke175 said...

Brigid,

Beautiful.

I agree there is something wrong with the Air in my office. My eyes are watering it is soo bad ;).

Thank You for sharing. There is nothing more beutiful than a mothers love for her children and what you did and your story tells of that true unselfish love.

TJIC said...

Woof.

Great story. Great writing.

Must be allergy season here in Ma...there's something in my eyes.

ajdshootist said...

Thank you for that,as one who only found out i was adopted a month after after my 60th birthday and has now just before my 62 found out more i feel that it is so wrong not to tell a child to hide the truth hurts
more when you find out after years of being lied to.

Answers? I don't know the questions. said...

OK, this comment will probably get me in trouble but I've been a frequent visitor there so WTH. First, it seems to be obvious that you made the right choice. Your post was touching and filled with love. I think abortion is the wrong choice and your story proves it.

There are many couples desperate for children that can't give birth. That is a great choice.

Also, as painful as it was, it was a blessing for you to find out the truth about the father (I use the term loosely in this case) at such an early date. You are fortunate to have that jackass out of your life.

Harper said...

I first read this story last night and thought that sleeping on it would give me some eloquent and appropriate words to type in this box. It didn't, but I still feel compelled to at least tell you 'thanks', you are a woman of great character and I appreciate that you shared this story.

ViolentIndifference said...

You did right. You gave love and life to her and then you made sure that she continued to get love and life. That is nothing short of angelic.

K. Erickson said...

As time continues passing unblessed of children for The Queen and I, our thoughts turn more and more to the possibility of adoption. I can only hope we are, one day, as good an adoptive family as Brigid Jr.'s was for her.

Earl said...

Thanks for telling it again, I have read it more than once and always wish that all poor choices ended up as well as yours - then realize that all the good parts of the your story are from love, and all the bad parts are from people that didn't or don't have any to spare, share nor care.

HermitJim said...

I think that your heart and the heart of your daughter say it all!

If you two are at peace with it, what does it matter what others think?

I, for one, think you made a hard choice but have no doubt that it was the right one for you!

Thank you for sharing this with us!

Newbius said...

-sniff- Must be dusty here, too.

Beautiful words, wonderful sentiment. Thank you for sharing.

Six said...

God bless you and your daughter Brigid.

David Michael Wade said...

Keep writing Brigid. I look forward to the day when you share your journey of Life in that great book. Chapters & stories have been great to date.

I think like you... I have learned that TIME and challenges are powerful Teachers.

Wishing you a rewarding future and New Year.

Sven said...

You write the words, dearheart. I know that pain from the other side.

Nikolas never took a breath. I know his spirit still lives, not only in my heart and in my writings. It lives, cradled in the arms of a loving God. He, that same God, has forgiven her.... *sigh*

One day, hot tears will well up from these now wrinkled ol' eyes; and I too will forgive, both her and my own selfish being.

Thank you.

WomanWhoRunsWithHorses said...

I knew you had a daughter that you had given up for adoption, but this is the first time I knew the whole story.

You were in an unimaginably scary circumstance at a very tender age. Though you were obviously a very mature and intelligent young girl, you were, nonetheless, a very young girl with a very weighty decision to make. The choice you made was the only one that would ensure your child would be able to live and make choices of her own one day. Her choice to seek you ought when she was old enough proves that she inherited more from you than just your red hair. She has your heart and your courage and your compassion. All because you chose to give her life.

What a GIFT you are, Brigid! To your family, to your daughter, to the couple that was blessed to raise your daughter and especially to all of us, your followers. But for the Internet and your passion (and talent) for writing, none of us would know you at all and the loss would be ours. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us.

Brigid said...

Thank you all, more than I can say.

You learn, you grow, it'd be easy to judge the one that hurt me, but I've hurt others as well along the way. No one gets through life without ever being thoughtless or uncaring at one point. You do what you can to fix it, and you say "I'm sorry" and you move on.

I lost 18 years of her life but I gained someone that I would still give my life for. Prescious lessons.

Chip said...

Even though I have read your story before it still makes me cry. Your story is one of unselfish love, and doing the best thing possible for your daughter. I have said it before, you are a person of great character.

PPPP said...

Brigid -

This is, I think, the third time I've read this, and I cry tears of happiness every time. You are an amazing person, with convictions and honor that you simply will not bend. You are to be commended for making a very difficult choice. Your parents done good. Real good. I hope and pray I can do as well should the situation every call for it.

Marlowe said...

Whenever I get weary, or grumpy, just plain crazy with the ennui of seemingly endemic falsehoods, I come here to breathe some fresh clean air. Your eloquence, candor and courage let me sigh, relax, and say yes.

Easy to love the good.

DaddyBear said...

Thank you, Brigid. That was beautiful. The most important part of being a parent is to make the hard decisions, even if either choice hurts. Sounds to me like your parents raised you well enough to make those hard decisions.

Pumice said...

You already have so many responses I hesitate to add one more, but thank you.

Grace and peace.

bluesun said...

Sanctification: the act of being made holy.

That's life, with all it's decisions, good and bad.

As always, thank you.

Christina LMT said...

Every time I read this post, I get choked up. Knowing you and knowing you're my friend makes me feel truly blessed. You're an amazing person, Brigid.

Carlo said...

Thanks for posting this story, and for the courage you showed all those year ago. You aboslutly made the right deceission, no matter what any pro-abortion person says.

Besides, if adoption is like "giving your kid away like a puppy", then wouldn't abortion be "putting it down like a dog when it becomes inconvinent"?

Michael said...

Dang it! I didn't want to boo-hoo again today.

You absolutely made the right choice. I've got a couple of real-life friends that made the same choice. Your telling of the story puts their experiences in a completely different light for me.

Thank you for doing your part to make this world a better place.

moses5768 said...

Bless you, bless you, a thousand times, bless you. What you did was so very selfless and loving.

This is the kind of thing that drives the culture of death nuts.

Not just your daughter was blessed by your choice, but her adoptive parents were blessed. And ultimately you were blessed.

Baruch HaShem.

Moshe Ben-David
http://www.thecompostfiles.blogspot.com

George said...

The poetry that resides in your writings illustrates the beauty in your soul, Brigid. This particular story, however, is worthy of our unabashed admiration for you ... and support for your decision.

The love that you exemplify is rare indeed. Thank you for letting us into your heart; that courage is again a mark of both your strength and your humility.

We are so fortunate that you are in our lives, Brigid. Oh ... and a Happy Birthday to your daughter.

Regards.

Don said...

You and the "new parents" both did surprisingly brave, hard things.

We are raising twin boys we adopted under very difference circumstances, and I can tell you that the choice you made must have made all the difference in the world. My boys' mother was much more troubled than you were, and they weren't her first children. But there was no father, no real job, and although I think she wanted to do her best, she wasn't able to do it. There were a lot of drugs, lots of drinking, lots of strange men, little food, little love, little time or attention. The children were neglected at best and abused at worst.

I don't know what my sons would be like or whether they would struggle as hard as they do if she had been able to give them up when they were born. Maybe it would have turned out worse. Maybe much, much better.

On the other hand, I might never have met my sons if she'd done that. That seems so easy compared to the sacrifice you had to make--I wouldn't have had to do anything like smell my newborn child sleeping on my chest and then give them up--but I don't really want to sit here and root for it anyway. Selfish, but it's all hypothetical for me so I can afford a little selfishness.

RonF said...

Apparently abortion in was more acceptable than adoption for a few pro-abortion folks verbally vilified me for "giving your kid away like it was a puppy", harsh hurtful words.

That's because a great many of the pro-abortion folks are in deep denial that there's actually a human life in a woman's womb. It's easier to see it as a "problem" - or, to use the words of our President a "punishment" - to dehumanize it.

You gave a life to Brigid Jr., and then you gave her life to someone else. Not just one but two great gifts. The hardest choices are usually the right ones.

RonF said...

We make our choices, we make decisions, good and bad, and if we have any strength of character, we own up to them, and try to make them right.

I'm active in Scouting. I have often had the opportunity to teach someone this principle - that unlike what society seems to teach these days, you are responsible for your choices. The day that you take responsibilities for your mistakes and try to fix them rather than try to deny them is when you can start thinking you've crossed the line from child to adult.

Usually it's a child I teach this to. But, regrettably, not always.

Dennis said...

Good choice and to the jerks that were idiots just kick them. So times in live we have to do the hard things and that was the hardest. Thank you for telling it. D

jawgee1 said...

Beautiful. Thank you so much for your testimony on the Catholic Answers board.

Brigid said...

jawgee1 - I have never posted, linked or testified on any Catholic Board or Forum. I have no idea what you are talking about, but I am glad you liked it.