Friday, August 01, 2008

The Gift of Life? Why Yes, I'll Take One.............

A month or so, a very close friend of mine who I have known for almost 20 years called me with some exciting news. For this post, I shall call her Jane. Jane lives in Ireland.

Now, Jane is about 41 years old and has known all her life that she was adopted at birth. Jane has had a fantastic life and her parents? Two of the sweetest, nicest people on the face of the planet - and trust me, I know A LOT of nice people and these two beat the lot of them. They also adopted another child - a boy. Jane's mum passed away about two years ago but her dad walks around having the health of a teenager ~ not bad for a 92 year old!

Jane has never shown any interest in wanting to know anything about her birth parents, but after recently having a baby of her own, I think the need to know SOMETHING about them became almost an obsession if only for the health history for her daughter.

So, after a lot of thought and deep soul searching (which involved the decision NOT to tell her dad due to his age etc.,) Jane completed all the forms necessary to have the Social Services put her information 'out there'. Basically she gave the information about herself that she knew and then had to sit back and wait for the details to be matched to whomever had given her up for adoption - if in fact they were searching for her.

A big IF.

Three weeks later, the social worker called and arranged a meeting between Jane and a counselor to make sure that Jane was prepared emotionally for whatever ~ if anything ~ was going to come her way.

Two weeks later Jane received a phone-call asking to meet the social worker. They had some information and wanted to discuss it with her.

The time came for the meeting and Jane sat down, anticipating receiving just a name and scant details of how she became adopted. The social worker then said to her;

"Jane, I have been a social worker for over 30 years and this is the first time I have ever had a case like this."

She then pulled out a very old HUGE folder, sealed and ready to be opened by the daughter that was given up for adoption those 41 years earlier. Jane's mother had left this information should Jane ever wish to find out more about her birth.

Jane delved into this folder which was so full of information it took her almost 2 and a half hours (and 2 packs of tissues) to get through it.
  • She found out she had been born and baptized Linda Geraldine.
  • She found out that her mother was called Bridgette.
  • She found out she had two older brothers (now 61 and 58) and an older sister (now 55).
  • She found out her mother was 42 when she gave birth to her (Jane had imagined her to be a 16 or 17 year old).
  • She found out that she had lived with her mother in a 'mother and child' home for three months before being given up for adoption.
  • She found out that her mother couldn't cope with her, at her age and having the three other kids.
  • She found out so much more in those two and a half hours than she had ever dreamed she would.

She read all this information, written in her mothers handwriting, and every time her mother mentioned her daughter, she would write "my daughter, Linda Geraldine....". Every sheet of paper was signed.

The last page states that "I have been faithfully promised that my daughter, Linda Geraldine will be given to a loving family, will want for nothing and will receive the love that she deserves. I have been promised this."

Her mother was married to a man and they had the three children and then her husband died. The two sons were sent to live with his parents and the daughter (who had learning disabilities) went to live with her grandparents on her mothers side. Then 15 years later, her mother became pregnant and thus begins the story of Jane's life.

Now, as I told you at the start of this post, Jane lives in Ireland. If you know anything of Irish history, you will know that unwed mothers back in those days - no matter what the age - used to be shipped off by the Catholic Church to work as laborers in institutions known as Magdalene Asylums. Click here for a brief history on that. Jane was very concerned that her mother may have endured that but was told that whilst she WAS in a similar kind of institution, it wasn't quite so horrid.

The social worker asked Jane if she wanted them to find out if her mother was still alive (she would be around 83 by now) and Jane said yes. If she WAS alive however but didn't want Jane to contact her, Jane was absolutely fine with that - I mean it was very obvious to everyone that Jane was a loved child regardless of the adoption. If her birth mother however was dead, the social worker said she would give Jane the details of where she was buried so she could go to her grave.

Jane was also asked if she wanted them to contact her siblings and Jane said that if they knew about her then yes, but if not, she felt that at their age it would be too much and she would rather just leave it.

Jane left that meeting so full of emotion and pride and love and admiration for her birth mother that even now, a few weeks after this all happened, it is still sinking in.

Which takes me back to her adoptive parents. These two people did EXACTLY what her mother had hoped and dreamed of for her daughter without even being told this. They gave Jane so much love and life, they gave her life and I know that I will always love them for this. They truly are remarkable people.

They had told Jane that they had adopted her when they went to the hospital and looked at a room full of newborn babies and she looked so sickly and so needing the love of someone, anyone, that they immediately chose her and fell in love with her.

Obviously Jane now knows this to be not the case but that doesn't diminish ANY of the love she has for them, it only magnifies it as she knows that they were making her feel loved and cherished and special.

Recently, things have been really miserable around here with sicknesses and whatnot, so I thought it was time I posted about something uplifting. Something that makes me feel good inside. Makes me feel happy.

This does. I hope it made you feel happy too.

I don't have any photographs this post BUT I AM posting this video that I found on YouTube. I imagine it is what Jane's mother was thinking when she spent her last minutes with her....... Just close your eyes while listening to it.

1 comment:

Michael said...

That's so sweet....and you're gonna make me cry....