Tuesday, March 07, 2006
In Other Words
Relinquishing Renee may read like fiction, but it is true. From the name of the nun, to the song on the radio from which my mother chose my name to the tears my father shed on my birthday, it is true. It is my story. It is my father’s story. It is my mother’s story – as she told it to me. I was merely the narrator.

But, I did some editing. I left out many of the realities that were, for me, hard to swallow. Or, perhaps I left them out because they are realities about the relinquishment experience during the “Baby Swoop Era” that are, in some adoption circles, vehemently denied. Maybe I excluded them because they are so often met with disbelief or the accusation of skewed perception on my – and my mother’s – behalf.

My mother chose, free of coercion, to relinquish me. There were no potential adoptive parents with greedy arms waiting by the phone to hear she’d delivered. There was no social worker touting the advantages of walking away from her fourth child. She didn’t have a lover threatening to leave her if she “didn’t take care of it” or an absent baby’s daddy. There were no parents threatening disinheritance or clergy threatening excommunication.

My mother was, in her words, “hell bent” on relinquishment because she “didn’t want another teenager to raise.”

Not one person who counseled her during the pregnancy believed adoption was the right thing for either of us. So determined was she to disregard her counsel, her second and third trimester were spent tangled up in a web of lies she created to keep her goal within reach.

She told the ladies at her new job she was married to a soldier fighting overseas. She showed them her ring. And, when they threw her a lovely baby shower, she opened each present and oooh’d and awwww’d as expectant moms should. When the hospital nun snuck me into her room against procedure, hoping to change her mind, she resisted.

She told the social worker her lover, a married man who drank too much, had left her. And, when the judge insisted she at least provide the background of the unnamed father, she invented his profession, ancestry and attributes because she was “afraid someone would find him waiting in the parking lot and ask if he wanted to parent.”

And then she went on with her life, married my father and tried her best not to think about it.

Did she have regrets? Oh, yes. When she saw me place a rose on my father’s grave twenty-two years later it was so painful she couldn’t remain in the cemetery. She had dreams in which he came to her saying, “why didn’t you tell me she’d come back?” She was angry with him for missing our reunion. And, with the hindsight of more than two decades she said, “I wish we’d raised you.”

Am I angry about the lies, about her sheer determination to walk away? I have been. I sometimes still am. But as my children enter their teens, I can almost wrap my mind around what happened. Almost. Mostly I see my mother as human and am sad for everything we missed – and all the things we can’t regain.

Because of a choice.

[My late night/early morning blog travels resulted in something unintended: this post. I had other things in the works, dammit. Serious things, less serious things, non-adoptiony things. At any rate, you can find what flipped my trigger in the comment section of fauxclaud's blog, Musings of the Lame - a read-worthy blog, by the way]
Rhonda Ruminated at 3:16 PM | Permalink |

6 Ruminations:

  • At 5:19 PM, Anonymous charlie

    No words.

  • At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Rhonda

    I hope 'no words' is a good thing :)

  • At 8:30 PM, Anonymous charlie

    There are no words to describe the emotion I felt. Hence, no words.

    I hope you are putting these gems away for your children. Someday, they will appreciate the treasure chest.

  • At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Rhonda

    Charlie, you are way too kind -- and I am way too stupid. I wrote that as a vent, mostly to avoid acting like a shithead on someone else's comment page. I guess it's one of those things I've carried around in my head so long, it lost it's affect for me when it finally got put to words. I truly had no clue it had any emotional umph. Thus, why I was scratching my head about the meaning of "no words."

    Thank you, so much.

  • At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Atilla The Mom

    Your mother is obviously in denial about her own experience. You were forcibly swooped, dammit!

    All kidding aside, great post, Rhonda.

  • At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Atilla The Mom

    The first time I thought my comments flew off into cyberspace when I got an error message. LOL Now you'll have to kick one. ;-)