March Madness is the slogan used for the excitement and chaos during college basketball tournaments. I adopted the term for how emotionally charged I feel and what monumental events have transpired in March in my life. I will expand on these events in future blogs, but this is a quick list.
March 17, 1987 -I gave birth at 17 to a son I relinquished
March 29, 2004 -I gave birth to a son I raised
March 19, 2016 -Received confirmation about my birth mother
March 28, 2016 - I met my birth mother
March 15, 2018 - Received notification through the Colorado Voluntary Adoption Program of a match with my birth son.
There is a sadness that envelops me this month. I am transported to a challenging time in my life as I was trying to make sense of repeating a cycle of adoption and finding a way to live with the guilt. I carried a child I knew I would not raise and struggled internally between my desire to do so and my perceived inability. For years after giving birth to my first son, I spent his birthday in a fog. I chose to isolate myself because I never knew when I would break down and wail as I wondered if he was happy. Was he loved as much as I loved him when I had him all to myself for those months I carried him? Did he get the toy he wanted? What type of cake was his favorite? He will be 35 years old in a couple of days, and although we have reunited, I still hold on to the guilt of not being able to celebrate his milestones. Days leading up to his birthday still carry the heaviness of a decision made through the eyes of a child.
I have a daughter born ten years after my firstborn son. When I found out I was pregnant, I was happy that I was having a girl and she would not be born in March. Mentally I was still mourning the son I relinquished.
When I got pregnant for the last time, I knew that I was carrying a boy before any ultrasound confirmed it. My due date was the first week of April, but there was a feeling that I couldn't even explain that was telling me it was time and I had to be ready. I had to face the fear of being a mother to a son. This pregnancy was stressful, and I tried to convince myself that having a son now didn't mean I loved my firstborn son any less. It was okay to be happy for this new life and still love and acknowledge the life someone else was shaping. "Because you didn't," were the words from my guilty conscience stuck on the end of any positivity I tried to grasp. When my youngest son decided to be born, he waited for me to get into a gown at the hospital, but that was it. The nurse delivered him with no time to wait for the doctor. I was now mother to a son I would raise—a far cry from the 17-year-old who gave birth to his brother 18 years ago.
Every March, the cycle repeats sadness, happiness, love, loss, remorse, hopefulness, guilt, joy, shame, pride.
I researched and found a mailing address for the woman I thought was my birth mother. After weeks of going back and forth, I finally typed a letter getting it postmarked by March 17, 2016. Mailing it that day, I felt I was sowing two seeds.
"First of all, I can confirm that I am indeed your birth mother." It was the sentence that instantly made my eyes water as I stared at an email from my birth mother on March 19, 2016. That reply would lead to email correspondence back and forth. We exchanged numbers, but I was still too overwhelmed that this moment was happening to hear her voice. When I finally did, we set up a meeting at a restaurant for March 28, 2016. As I pulled into the lot, I saw her exiting her car heading to the door. I slowly drove around the parking lot, making it a point to go further out of my way than necessary so we wouldn't meet until I got inside. She seemed oblivious to her surroundings and moved purposely on her cane as she walked towards the door. In one of our email correspondence, she had explained that she walked with a cane because of back pain. She looked like someone's mother and then realized that she was mine.
I found out in January 2018 my dad was dying. He was not my adoptive dad; he was just my dad. In the months that followed, I assisted my mother in caring for him at home, realizing time was slipping. March 15, 2018, on my 15-minute drive home, I recalled a conversation with my dad a couple of years prior, where he said he regretted not encouraging me to keep my firstborn son. Considering the emotional wave I ride in March; it didn't surprise me that conversation came to mind. What did surprise me was opening the mail to: "Dear Ms. Johnson, Congratulations! A successful match has been made through the Colorado Voluntary Adoption Program. We have made a match between you and your birth child."