The holidays are not always kind to adoptees. The focus on family can cause feelings of loss to surface and bring up complex emotions around the concept of “family.” For me, I will celebrate Christmas with the family I grew up with, where far too often lately, it doesn’t quite feel like home, but it’s familiar. I will call my birth mother and wish her well, feeling disjointed but thankful she is in my life, and I will FaceTime my son and hope that he answers.
Even with the tempered enthusiasm for the holidays, I love this time of year because December is my birthday month. Instead of setting New Year Resolutions, I set Birthday Resolutions.
Although the day I was born was the same day my mother relinquished me, I do not view my birthday as a day of loss. Possibly because it would hurt too much to think of it like that, or maybe it's because I am a birth mother. Regardless of the reason, I celebrate that I survived birth, relinquishment, foster care, adoption, rebranding (two name changes), and the self-inflicted trauma of continuing the adoption cycle by relinquishing my son as a teenager.
When I was a child, I believed that if at no other time, my birth mother would have to think about me on my birthday, given that it is five days before Christmas. That thought comforted me as I gushed over the German Chocolate cake my adoptive mother had made just for me. Baking was her gesture of love, as she was not adept at showing it any other way.
After I relinquished my son, I constantly thought of him and even more so on his birthday, which falls on St. Patrick’s Day. While others were boisterous in their celebration and looking to pinch someone not wearing green, my celebration was more reserved. I celebrated that he existed and, hopefully, like me as a child; if he didn’t think about me any other time, he would on his birthday.
I still have the same excitement for my birthday, primarily because it is mine! My name could be changed, and my parents could be changed, but my birthdate was mine. Even though the Social Security Administration once told me I was born a year later than the birth certificate information stated. Luckily they were incorrect, and my birthdate was not another thing taken from me.
As I reflect on my past year, I wonder if I am locked in survival mode, not only as an adoptee and a birth mother but in general!
I said goodbye to my marriage and began earnestly working through my feelings of failure.
I no longer trusted my decision-making or anyone else's and realized I needed to rebuild my self-confidence.
I started this blog to find my voice after years of silence, guilt, and shame.
I faced the person I had a child with for the first time in 34 years, and it didn't break me the way it did when I was 16.
I continue to navigate the ups and downs of adoption reunions, experiencing a few more ups just recently.
I was disappointed by what I viewed as family betrayal, which left me wondering if anyone was "Team Me" and prompted me to create boundaries.
My celebrations have been for the trauma I endured and not for the life I live.
Today is Tuesday, December 20th, and I am grateful for this day as I wake up in one of the few places I found that brings peace to my spirit as the sun rises behind the Santa Catalina Mountains. My birthday resolution this year is to work on decreasing the negative narrative I tell myself that prevents me from sitting comfortably in a place of inner peace. In a world that has colored my self-perception for far too long, it is time to celebrate life.