Friday, January 25, 2013

On Waiting - A Story of Adoption

I was born to an unwed mother in the generation of Roe vs. Wade.  I missed the actual date by a few years however, or I would not be writing these words.  For I was born to one who, most assuredly, did not want to be pregnant with me. But I was born, on a warm day in August, in Swedish Hospital in Seattle.

I am the product of adoption, as is my child.  There are many such stories, such as the one told today at Preachers and Horse Thieves where their long journey of adoption has finally ended with great celebration. Foster parents, they adopted in their 40's as my Mom and Dad did with my brother and I. There is my friend Auntie J., who, with her devoted husband, are now Mom and Dad to their three nieces.  We could be a blogger, a neighbor a friend.  We could be your mother, or your sister, or your daughter.  We could be you.  This is  our story, this is your stoy.

You're almost Sixteen,  soon to have license to freedom in your pocket, the chrome polished chariot to your future sitting in the driveway in the form of an ancient Volkswagen Beetle. Sixteen, a mile marker for some, for you anyway, old enough to drive, time stolen through pale fences that line the roads as you rush towards your future. 

There's a boy in the Cello section of the orchestra that you  like, but he's always hovering around the delicate, blond flowers of the flute section. You are part of the posse of math and science geeks that occupy the wind and brass section that plays with the orchestra one day a week. But there, you are with friends, armed only with overbites, wit and lung capacity, as you sit outside of the strings and the flutes, moving clumsily around like bespectacled bumblebees among the flowers.

There's a dance coming up, a Sadie Hawkins one, in which the girls ask the boys. Your parents will have to drive you but it's almost like a real date.  With hopeful eyes, you bumble over and ask him to go with you. The blond next to him looks at you with a withering giggle. He says "uh. . I'll call you later" with an expression that is not so much a smile as a dismissal. But you are too young and naive to see anything but the smile.

You rush home, anticipation lingering around you, waiting to be breathed in and let loose in a sudden exhale as you rush to your room to wait. You will sit there in your room in silence for hours as the family eats without you, as dinner dishes are put away, and the room grows cold, your breath vaporizing in the growing dark.

Waiting for that phone to ring.

You're a week shy of being 18, in college, trying to be grown up, when you are still a child. But you are a child who is now carrying a child. The older guy who swept you off your feet  and took what can't be replaced was gone with that call from the doctor. Everyone says it's your body, your choice. You may have been naive, but you are grown up enough to know that your choice was when you gave yourself to someone without adequate birth control. THAT was your choice, not the taking of this innocent life.

You remember the night she was born, ten pounds, six ounces, after 34 hours in labor, her head crowning, her body bursting forth onto the sweat and blood soaked sheet. You remember only getting to hold her once, for just a moment before she is handed over, in your pain, to her adoptive parents, incredulous of her soft hair, perfect fingers, smelling of the womb, of warmth, of love. She looked at you with a peripheral glance, while you uttered the name you would give her and the words you were not able to say again for years, for in fear of their utterance, the object of those words would be lost to you. I love you, don't forget me.

It's an open adoption, you know where she is, and with who, but your word is your honor and you promised not to get close. She has the option to contact you if she wishes when she turns of age, but if she doesn't? That, as they say, is that. You gave your word, you will respect that.

You spend the next 18 years waiting for that phone to ring.

You're in your late 30's, happily playing kerosene warrior, loading up a transport plane, simply getting ready for your duties, the four bars on your shoulders a reminder of your responsibilities. You're waiting for the fuel guy when we get word one of your planes is down, Isn't that the one that Ed was on?

You can't stop what we're doing, but each of you has one ear tuned to the task, men moving and working, shadows on the wall, not of flesh and blood, which is so fragile, but shadows of enduring hope and will, quiet as the murmur of  your breath as you work,  one ear still listening.

Waiting for that phone to ring.

You're all grown now, still logging those miles on the road, still checking in with your Dad when you arrive at your hotel when you travel, for though you're grown up, he's had his 90th birthday and he worries, especially now that his days grow short.  The phone lays silent on the seat of the car as you head out, the thump of the tires on the pavement tapping out a Morse code that is unheard, the wheels pulling you further away from everything you have counted on and closer towards the unknown.

The thump of the tires takes you back to those days on the back of a motorcycle, riding with your brother. You think of him, his arms strong in command of that bike, his hands calloused but delicate as he tended to your father all these years. You can't imagine him being sick, of ever dying.  You can't think of them both gone, but you do, as his next round of chemo starts.  You can't be there this week, but if either take a turn, you will be there, at the sound of the phone.

But you're nearing your destination, the blue and read lights guiding you to where you are called. For now, you can't think of such things, you can only drive through avatars that mark the accumulation of tears

Waiting for that phone to ring.

You are here, this moment, now, laying in bed.  You shut your eyes, laying your hands flat against the cool sheets, trying to will yourself to sleep.  You remember what your martial arts instructor told you about breathing, how you enter the true home of your spirit with each intake of breath, each exhalation, actions as old as time, a rhythm that is both life and death.

On the nightstand, your firearm and two phones, your personal one and the one that tethers you to duty. You never know when that one will ring, a call signaling the exorbitant burden that is nature, fate or someone's personal jihad. Tonight, you somehow expect it to go off, thinking of swinging out of bed and grabbing gear,  jumping into the truck.  Gear in the back, teetering as if to fall, as you accelerate too fast, the high beams blinding more than illuminating as they cut through fog that coils in the lows in the road like a snake.

You do this, as the world sleeps, in that state of blessed forgetfulness in which the most fragile of senses can slumber, free from the godless dark intents of man and nature. You go because it is what you do, as much as who you are.

But tonight, the thought of that drive already exhausts you, even as you can't get to sleep.  You look to the clock, wondering what time it is in Europe, your Partner headed that way, on a mission that's as much a part of love of what one does, as duty, something you so understand.  You wish he wasn't flying right now, burying the worry under the kevlar exterior, but it's what he does, as much as who he is.

He'll call when he gets in to his hotel, so you know he's safe. You will smile, and you will both laugh. Till then, you lay in the embrace of the sheets, all the thoughts of what is going on in the world tickling your senses like electricity, a flicker of current before darkness.

On the nightstand  are photos, a boy and  little girl in the lap of the man that chose to be their Dad, as they have a snack of apples as he reads to them.  There's another picture of them both, in motorcycle leathers, years later, in front of a couple of Valkyries in his driveway.  There's an old picture of a group of pilots, all friends, all intact, even after a scare or two.  There's a photo of someone holding a musical instrument, not the silly high school crush, but a person of substance and honor, who, through time and the tears that come from suspect choices, has always been there when you needed a friend.

Among the photos on the nightstand is one of a little girl, with eyes the color of a storm tossed sea, just like yours. You  glance at it and smile, breathe deep and drift off to sleep, at peace.

Somewhere out there trouble stirs, shadows rouse themselves from sleep.  Somewhere far above and far away, someone slumbers aloft, their breath, in and out, a rhythm which not the mind, but the heart, marks and calls the measure for. Somewhere far away, your child, and her child, sleep safe in their beds, as safe as a scared teenager, turned protector of those that have no voice, could make them.

The clock ticks off one more notch of breath as you lay in that burgeoning true that is life.

Waiting for that phone to ring.


Daddy Hawk said...

Brigid, thanks so much for the link and the story. You are very right though. The Queen and I were very surprised to find out how many people were in our lives already that had been adopted or had adopted children themselves. It's been a tremendous journey, and the road is not easy. I recommend the experience only to those with strong faith and infinite patience.

Doom said...

You know, I hadn't thought of some of that, until now. I suppose since none of my children were put up for adoption, staying with their mothers, two married, to someone else, one not and not interested. I am not even sure if they were told, two of them most probably not. And those being the ones I know about, for sure. But that waiting is... murder. For years I dreaded it. Now... I think I would welcome it. But it... does get to me sometimes.

I lost names and some memories when I became ill. I've never seen photos, and only heard rumors about one of them being a boy, another being a girl maybe, and the third I simply don't know. I know almost nothing, at this point, save that they existed.

Being adopted myself, I did track back and find my mother. I stayed with her for two weeks and just... talked. At least one person no longer has to worry about that call.

naturegirl said...

She's beautiful.

There may be wrong choices sometimes, that should never be confused with mistakes.

I say life is what happens while I'm waiting for something, and I'm always waiting for something. They seem to go hand in hand. And families are made based on love and support, not necessarily genetics.

Rev. Paul said...

Sometimes the greatest misadventures or errors in judgment produce the greatest blessings, although they arrive in ways we never expect.

I hope the only call you get tonight is from he who travels, to tell you everything is fine.

Keads said...

I can say nothing here of import except thank you for sharing.

I as Rev. Paul stated hope the only call you get tonight is from your traveling friend.

AussieAlaskan said...

Gut wrenching, but positive, Brigid. Good wishes.

Cathy Monroe said...

What a loss it would have been if your biological mother had somehow not given birth to you. Thank you for making two people happy with your decision to have your child and giving her to them.

I hope all your phone calls are happy calls.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you for this beautiful post. You are correct. Many people have been touched by adoption in one way or another, and sometimes in all ways. We have four biological children, and then adopted a teen boy following the sudden passing of our youngest son. I cannot tell you the joy J. beings to us, and everyone thinks that HE is the lucky one. He is a gift from God, the same as any other child.
Thanks again for a very beautiful post.

Borepatch said...

That was beautiful.

Stephen said...

Brigid, that was beautiful. And as is usual with your writing, I connected on many levels. Thank you.

SHARON said...

You've done it again. Great post.

billf said...

Beautiful writing,sometimes you make me cry.
You've had ups and downs,joy and hardship,but in the end ,knowing what you know,would you do anything differently?would you trade your life for one of simple existance-never traveling,no hardship (and no subsequent feeling of success)no Brigid Jr,,9to5 boring work and weekends off with nothing to do?
Nor would I.

Paige said...

Absolutely beautiful writing.

Ajdshootist said...

Beautifully written,as one who only
found out that i was adopted after my
60th Birthday it as you can imagen it came as somewhat of a shock, i had a number of occasions to ask if i was adopted and always the answer
was no you look like father's father
that has caused me no end of anger since i found out.

jocostello said...

God bless you.

God, Gals, Guns, Grub said...

Wow... no words...

Dann in Ohio

Auntie J said...

I am constantly blessed by your friendship, Brigid. Out of all my friends, you see both sides of what my girls know. Every day, I wake and realize how very blessed we are to have these little heathens that I love so much. I hope that they, like you, realize just how very much we love them, how much they are ours, just as your parents love you. The happy shrieks of "Daddy!" and "Mommy!" are gifts I cannot believe we have.

I believe it was the Psalmist who wrote, "I have called you by name; you are mine." He was speaking of God's love for his children...the God who has chosen adoption to build his family. But they are no less true of our family. The Fries are ours. No matter where they go, they will always be ours. We've chosen to make them ours.

They've each asked us if we'll stop loving them. Never, we tell them. Never.

Some day, we'll be the ones waiting. At 7, 6, and 6, we're not quite at dances and proms.

But it doesn't matter how old we are. We'll always be there, on the other end of the phone, for as long as we're here.

May you only get happy calls tonight.

eiaftinfo said...

Beautiful Ma'am, simply beautiful. It's interesting how we all "get here". You daughter's path - and yours - wasn't traditional. And yet both were filled with love, purpose, duty, friendships . . . .

God does provide purpose, sometimes it simply isn't obvious.

Thanks for sharing Ms. B. Have a wonderful Sunday.


OldAFSarge said...

The beauty of your words is exceeded only by the beauty of your soul.

Your writing inspires me and always gives me such peace.

I can't thank you for that enough dear Brigid.


Brigid said...

DaddyHawk - again my congratulations on confirming your family. What has been known in your heart is now recognized by the law.

Doom - I hope there is someone for you, that indeed, waits for your call.

Rev Paul and Keads - yes, he arrived safely.

AussieAlaskan, Cathy, Jane, naturegirl, Sharon, Paige - thank you ladies, each and every one of you. It's not something I would have shared, but a few years ago my daughter encourage me to tell the story here. I'm glad I have.

billf - no regrets but for a couple times I did things that hurt others, those I would take back. But for the things I was dealt with, none. They made me who I am, for better or worse.

Auntie J - thank you for your friendship and in confiding with me your concerns and worries as you went through your recent surgery. I'm glad you are on the mend and on the way home.

Borepatch - I did smile when you told me how much the new redheaded grandmunchkin looked like me (we'll avoid the fact she was topless in the high chair and was covered in pasta). My best to Mrs. B. and the family.

OldAFSarge - give your daughter a hug, she's done you proud, and thank you Sir.

Brigid said...

Ajdshootist - that has to be painful for you. I'm sorry. Thanks for the funny dog photos you sent to Rev Paul and myself. That made me smile.

jocostello - and you as well. thank you for taking the time to leave a note. Bless you.

Pink said...

My friend....I commend you.

Rogue Aviation said...

The content here is just amazing. Refreshing, real, pointed, with great depth. Thanks for writing it.

The DO said...

I tend to get... upset at the idea of abortion to "save" a teenager from pregnancy and a child. Both my folks are the second child of teenage moms. In today's jab and toss society, neither would exist. My own mother was a teen mom. Again, today most likely I would not exist. So, yeah, when people are so flippant with teen pregnancy, and obsessed with the idea of a woman's choice, I get... shall we say, upset.

Brigid said...

Pink my dear, thank you!

The DO - you are a women, from what I know of you, that I would be proud to know and have served with, and one that I know, any parent would be proud of.

Thank you for those words, my brother and I were NOT wanted, but our adoptive parents made us feel special, as they chose us.

Had I been conceived just a few years later, I would not be here. That is not lost on me.

My daughter is strong, she's a shooter, a fighter, and I'm ever so proud that she, with her parents support, has made me a part of their lives, even if just a visit every year amongst the pictures and emails.

Tell your Dad, thanks for the note on Angus, and feel free to call any time.

PPPP said...

Beautifully written, as always.

I have to go now. My eyes are leaking again.

I don't think anybody's writing does that to me nearly as much as yours.

But it's almost always good leaking, so I don't mind at all.

Thank you.

Alison said...

Ah Brigid - your words leave me wordless and teary-eyed, such a long strange trip to get to such a worthwhile place of balance... Blessings to you and yours and your beautiful daughter

Emily said...

What a beautiful post, Brigid! I so admire your strength and value for life. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your world.

Andie said...

Thank you, and your beautiful daughter, for sharing your story. It seems your daughter has inherited much of your inner strength in addition to gorgeous eyes!

My sister likes to say that life is what happens after you make plans--that seems pretty accurate when I really think about it, especially when it comes to choices. Choices are sometimes easier to understand in hindsight...

ain't for city gals said...

Oh my..thank you so much for not choosing abortion as birth control. Hoping it is a long long time before you receive the phone calls about your brother and dad...and glad you already received the one from your beloved.

Garand Gal said...

I worked with our county health department and saw a lot of bad things happen to children whose mothers made/make poor choices, seeing how a mother in a similar situation made a better choice lifts my heart. Thank you.

Lee King said...

Wow. I am blown away.

Good bless,