We are leaving for Japan tonight and our bags are almost packed. I have a little free time so I thought I would blog about some goings-on in my life. Last December Matthias and I stopped by the Iglesia Cristiana Latinoamericana (Latin American Christian Church) in Frankfurt to see our Colombian friends. Much to my surprise, I met a lovely lady from El Salvador named Rebecca at that church. I recently got in touch with her via email and asked for some help regarding the possibility of locating my birth mother. She has been a huge help, connecting me with her brother who is a doctor in El Salvador. Today I have to send a fax to the hospital where I was born, authorizing him to be the recipient of any information on file at the hospital about my birth.
I do not know anything about my birth mother except that she was a domestic worker. Two months after I was born, my mother flew to the capital of San Salvador by herself, unable to speak even one word of Spanish, and picked me up at the hospital. She had no translator or help at all, and it amazes me that she was so brave to go to San Salvador alone. My mom told me that I was sickly, small, and weighed only seven pounds, even though I was over two months old. She also said that I had suffered from pneumonia in the hospital (as a I child, I always had troubles with asthma-like symptoms until I was twelve or so).
Rebecca’s brother, Daniel (the doctor), asked me a lot of questions that I could not answer. Do you know your mother’s name or hometown? Are you sure your exact date of birth is really May 2, 1997? I had no helpful information to offer him. He even asked if there is the possibility that I was a premature baby – I thought about that question all day yesterday. I had never wondered why I was in the hospital at two months of age rather than in an orphanage. Daniel suggested that perhaps I was born prematurely and also contracted pneumonia, which would explain why I was still at the hospital at two months of age and so small.
I have also been corresponding with a sweet woman who is my age and has adopted twins from Guatemala. She lives in Maryland and I plan to meet her and her boys this summer. Our emails have been really helpful to me as I continue to process my own adoption and make steps toward finding some information about my birth mother.
Here are two things related to adoption that I have thinking about a lot. First, I have spent a long time thinking about and dwelling on the positives of adoption but not so much the negatives. Adoption is beautiful and wonderful…I believe that, really I do. However, it is very painful and complicated and HARD. Many adoptive parents are really unsure how to “deal” with the questions and confusion. I am just realizing (as a 34-year old) that I have been thinking about my birth mother for my entire life, but have never been consciously able to verbalize that I miss her, that I long for her, that I have felt the pain of my separation from her every day of my life. As my new adoptive friend in Maryland wrote about her boys: “Even a seven year old boy who has adoptive parents who do talk about his story regularly with him…still feels the tension and helplessness of decisions made on his behalf that have altered his life path in a way that can never be fully reconciled. Our kids love us, but they also feel a loyalty to another family they don’t even remember. They just know they’re ‘theirs’ and that matters a whole lot.”
I once went to a seminar on adoption held by CCEF (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation). It was so incredibly helpful to me in so many ways. The seminar was attended by adoptive parents who were having major “issues” with their adopted children. I was the only adoptee there, but in the end that wasn’t a big deal. The speaker shared that for adoptive parents, adoption is a joy. For example, infertile couples who cannot have kids finally get their child and all is well (or so it seems). From the child’s perspective, adoption is a trauma that is based on a broken relationship. The most fundamental relationship is that child’s life has been severed. God never intended for the parent-child relationship to be severed and the child will probably feel the pain and loss of that unnatural separation during their entire life. That totally made sense to me. Finally, someone was saying that adoption is not always 100% wonderful and happy and beautiful (which it is for the parents but not always for the kid). I used to have this sensation/ feeling like the ground was shaking and there was this huge invisible wall between me and my family when I would gather with my family at holiday events…it was terrible, really awful. It didn’t go away until I was an adult when I became a Christian.
My second thought has been about the high costs of adoption. Americans and Europeans are willing to “shell out” $30,000-$40,000+ to adopt a child. I often wonder how much we wealthy Americans, who are willing to spend that much to adopt a child, really, really care about the plight of families in third-world countries. Frankly, at times I think to myself I would rather donate $40,000 to a wonderful organization that keep poor, struggling families in El Salvador intact and prevents women from ever being in a place that they feel like they have to abandon their children. Adoption of children by Americans in countries like El Salvador is only made possible, so to speak, because woman are abandoning their babies. I would rather invest my money in seeing the abandoning of children coming to an end.
So, those are my thoughts on adoption for today. I look forward to hearing from Doctor Daniel soon, and wonder if the hospital has any clues that might help me to find my birth mother. As Kim in Maryland wrote to me today, “I guarantee you that your other mama has not forgotten you for a day. It’ll be weird and difficult to reunite after all the distance, different cultures, economic disparity and everything, but I think it’ll be worth going through all that to know and to be loved on by the family you lost all that time ago.”