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 this one moment of reunion. The bond of mother and daughter can never 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. Struggling with a center broken by your choice to honor my parents’ wishes that I not marry my first love, I emerged from becoming an “unwed mother” with emotional scars so great 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 within my heart that, while the years passed, I really could not really 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 class of spiritual counseling students that had six other women who shared the exact same closely held past that I did so? We were all birth mothers. Our secret became our magnet, and we began to meet and vision a ministry at our church that could prayerfully support all people that are affected by adoption: adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents. It was a noble idea, and one that would require that people do our personal healing work to be able to be available to others.
And so we began the excruciating journey of dredging up our pain. We individually faced our personal 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 in the future and tell their stories and join in 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 problems 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 personal Pandora’s box.
It was because atmosphere of prayer and spiritual guidance that I felt safe enough to manage my own walls of defense and denial and try to bring them down acim podcast apple. The procedure was agonizing. Not just was I delving into 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 getting sinned, in line with the church of my childhood in addition to the mores of society in 1961. I was admitting that I was full of rage at my parents for interrupting my fantasy to truly have the perfect family, and at my boyfriend for lacking fought harder to truly save me out of this torturous sentence of a banished offender. Throughout the look 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 help 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 just how much I loved her, to share with her that she was conceived in love, and to complete the circle that began with her birth.
And so I searched…and I prayed…and I begun to forgive. As I progressed through the classes in spirituality which were preparing me to be always 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 beauty 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 once I released my guilt, shame and blame concerning the circumstances surrounding her getting into this world.
“Seventy times seven.” Jesus admonishes us that this is the way often we must forgive to be able to be free — in other words, as often because 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 and energy 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 just how to let myself off.
I started by feeling great compassion for the teenager I was who had been so in love and so passionate about life, and who only wanted to see and express that love in any way 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’d essentially shut herself off from trusting her very own beautiful heart. I heard her, consoled her, told her just how much I loved her and that I wouldn’t let that kind of pain eventually her again. The I AM of me (my God Self) forgave her for almost any belief she held about being a “bad girl,” a “sinner,” an “undesirable good-for-nothing,” and a “reason for pain to others.”
The months — and yes, years — that I have spent forgiving the layers of self-recrimination and loathing I felt for myself have truly unburdened me. Freeing myself from the shackles of the seemingly unforgivable and unforgiving past has truly given me a brand new life. The attitude I now hold toward myself, my loved ones, 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 — a present I can and do readily give all those I teach and counsel. The miracle experienced from my commitment to forgiveness could be the profound love I give my first-born daughter, a love activated the moment we hugged that has continued to enrich my entire life ever since.