Our hearts melted into one another’s in instant recognition throughout that first hug. Two bodies reunited after 36 years…two spirits that had never been separated. The gap of time was instantly filled during this 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 as an “unwed mother” with emotional scars so excellent that my only defense was to bury them deeply, get my entire life like nothing had happened, and go on. So successful was my denial of the gaping hole in my heart that, whilst 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 students that had six other women who shared the exact same closely held past that Used to do? We were all birth mothers. Our secret became our magnet, and we began to meet and vision a ministry at our church that may prayerfully support all people that are suffering from adoption: adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents. It was a noble idea, and one that will require that we do our own healing work in order to be offered 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 one another and all those whose pain we share acim. We created the Adoption Triad Ministry at The Agape Center of Truth in Los Angeles and invited people touched by adoption ahead and tell their stories and participate in prayer each month. We opened the best way to allow each member of the triad — adoptee, adoptive parent and birth parent — to dialog with the other, seeking an understanding of the unique emotional issues that each carries. And some of us searched to get our child and/or parent. My decision to try to find my daughter opened up my own Pandora’s box.
It was because atmosphere of prayer and spiritual guidance that I felt safe enough to face my own walls of defense and denial and try to create them down. The process was agonizing. Not merely was I delving in to the shame and pain I’d caused my parents and siblings by being a pregnant teenager, I was allowing to surface the hatred I held for myself for lacking 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 having sinned, according to the church of my childhood in addition to the mores of society in 1961. I was admitting that I was filled up with rage at my parents for interrupting my fantasy to truly have the perfect family, and at my boyfriend for lacking fought harder to save lots of me out of this torturous sentence of a banished offender. Throughout 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 get my daughter, to tell her just how much I loved her, to talk about with her that she was conceived in love, and to perform 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 that have been preparing me to become a spiritual counselor and prayer practitioner, I came to understand that without forgiveness I would struggle to free myself from the maze of negative self-judgment which I’d allowed to tarnish the sweetness of the birth of my daughter. I understood that if I were to welcome her with true open arms now, I’d to find the good in my being her birth mother. I knew that the healing miracle I so dearly sought was possible only once I released my guilt, shame and blame in regards to the circumstances surrounding her getting into this world.
“Seventy times seven.” Jesus admonishes us that this is the way often we must forgive in order to be free — quite simply, as frequently since it takes. I was well on my solution to completing my forgiveness of the other actors in my drama — my parents, my first love, my church, my society. Now it was time and energy to forgive myself. I’d held myself on the cross of self-blame and shame for way too long that I wasn’t sure just how to let myself off.
I started 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 experience and express that love at all she knew how. I listened to that 19-year-old’s pain of profound loss and of feeling that she didn’t belong. That pain had been so severe that she had essentially shut herself off from trusting her own beautiful heart. I heard her, consoled her, told her just how much I loved her and that I would not let that kind of pain eventually her again. The I AM of me (my God Self) forgave her for just about any belief she held about being fully 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 that seemingly unforgivable and unforgiving past has truly given me a new life. The attitude I now hold toward myself, my children, my first love and my pregnancy is just gratitude, gratitude for one of many greatest growth experiences of my life. By coming to terms with my past, the gift of compassion was ignited in me — a present 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’s continued to enrich my entire life ever since.