Our hearts melted into one another’s in instant recognition through that first hug. Two bodies reunited after 36 years…two spirits that had never been separated. The gap of time was instantly filled during any particular one moment of reunion. The bond of mother and daughter cannot be broken. Only shame, guilt, and remorse fed the fire of apparent separation. Only forgiveness would dowse the flames and complete the circle of love.
Thirty-six years before, I’d given birth to my first daughter and then released her for adoption. Experiencing a heart broken by the decision to honor my parents’ wishes that I not marry my first love, I emerged from becoming an “unwed mother” with emotional scars so excellent that my only defense was to bury them deeply, get my entire life as though nothing had happened, and go on. So successful was my denial of the gaping hole within my heart that, as the years passed, I really could not remember my child’s birth date.
How was it possible then, some 30 years, four children and two marriages later, that I really could find myself in a type of spiritual counseling student that had six other women who shared the exact same closely held past that I did so? We were all birth mothers acim apple podcast. Our secret became our magnet, and we began to generally meet and vision a ministry at our church that may prayerfully support all people that are afflicted with adoption: adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents. It was a noble idea, and one that will require that individuals do our own healing work in order to be open to others.
And so we began the excruciating journey of dredging up our pain. We individually faced our own demons — guilt, shame, blame, anger and self-recrimination — at whatever pace we felt effective at moving, and collectively we prayed for each other and all those whose pain we share. We created the Adoption Triad Ministry at The Agape Center of Truth in Los Angeles and invited people touched by adoption to come and tell their stories and interact prayer each month. We opened the way to allow each person in the triad — adoptee, adoptive parent and birth parent — to dialog with one other, seeking an knowledge of the unique emotional conditions that each carries. And some people searched to find our child and/or parent. My decision to try to look for my daughter opened up my own Pandora’s box.
It was in that atmosphere of prayer and spiritual guidance that I felt safe enough to manage my own, personal walls of defense and denial and try to bring them down. The process was agonizing. Not only was I delving into the shame and pain I’d caused my parents and siblings by becoming a pregnant teenager, I was allowing to surface the hatred I held for myself for not having fought for what I wanted…my mate and my baby. What I was inviting into conscious awareness – and ultimately acceptance – were the shame and guilt of experiencing sinned, based on the church of my childhood in addition to the mores of society in 1961. I was admitting that I was filled with rage at my parents for interrupting my fantasy to have the perfect family, and at my boyfriend for not having fought harder to truly save me out of this torturous sentence of a banished offender. During the search for my daughter, I was required on numerous occasions to recall those difficult circumstances surrounding her birth, and it was all I really could do to keep from passing out. As I unleashed one tidal wave after another of suppressed feelings, I was constantly on the verge of emotional overwhelm. What kept me going was my deep, deep desire to find my daughter, to tell her how much I loved her, to generally share with her that she was conceived in love, and to accomplish the circle that began with her birth.
And so I searched…and I prayed…and I began to forgive. As I progressed through the classes in spirituality which were preparing me to become a spiritual counselor and prayer practitioner, I came to appreciate that without forgiveness I would be unable to free myself from the maze of negative self-judgment which I’d permitted to tarnish the wonder of the birth of my daughter. I understood that if I were to welcome her with true open arms now, I’d to get the good within my being her birth mother. I knew that the healing miracle I so dearly sought was possible only if I released my guilt, shame and blame in regards to the circumstances surrounding her coming into this world.
“Seventy times seven.” Jesus admonishes us that this is how often we need to forgive in order to be free — quite simply, as frequently as it takes. I was well on my method to completing my forgiveness of one other actors within my drama — my parents, my first love, my church, my society. Now it was time for you to forgive myself. I’d held myself on the cross of self-blame and shame for such a long time that I wasn’t sure how to let myself off.
I began by feeling great compassion for the teenager I was who was simply so in love and so passionate about life, and who only wanted to have and express that love by any means she knew how. I listened compared to that 19-year-old’s pain of profound loss and of feeling that she did not belong. That pain had been so severe that she had essentially shut herself off from trusting her very own beautiful heart. I heard her, consoled her, told her how much I loved her and that I would not let that kind of pain happen to her again. The I AM of me (my God Self) forgave her for almost any belief she held about being truly a “bad girl,” a “sinner,” an “undesirable good-for-nothing,” and a “reason for pain to others.”
The months — and yes, years — that I’ve spent forgiving the layers of self-recrimination and loathing I felt for myself have truly unburdened me. Freeing myself from the shackles of this seemingly unforgivable and unforgiving past has truly given me a fresh life. The attitude I now hold toward myself, my children, my first love and my pregnancy is gratitude, gratitude for one of the greatest growth experiences of my life. By arriving at terms with my past, the gift of compassion was ignited in me — something special I can and do readily tell all those I teach and counsel. The miracle experienced from my commitment to forgiveness could be the profound love I tell my first-born daughter, a love activated the minute we hugged that has continued to enrich my entire life ever since.