A friend of mine sent me the link to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday. She didn’t say what it was about, just sent the link as if it was a dare for me to click it. I wasn’t disappointed. The article is about a birth mother reuniting with her relinquished child 46 years after the birth and subsequent placement.
I’m always nervous when I see articles about adoption, especially reunion, in any form of mainstream media. You never know how it is going to go. You never know if the journalist has a negative view of the topic and will let that seep into the piece. This article, however, was a joy to read.
In fact, this family is a joy. Reading the article made me want to seek out this family, every last one of them, and offer a hug of rejoice, support and love mixed together. My favorite part of the article (and, of course, the family’s history) is that the mother never kept the relinquished daughter a secret from her subsequently parented children. And, of course, 46 years ago found this mother deep in the throes of the closed adoption era. I’m sure she was told to forget and “move on” and other destructive advice. Instead, she chose the path of honesty with her children. It moved me.
But Ms. Malloy didn’t keep Kimberly’s birth a secret from the children she later bore; the opposite was true. When the children gave her a necklace adorned with their birthstones, they included one for Kimberly, too.
As a side note, my mother’s necklace also includes my placed daughter’s birthstone.
I did find it sad, however, that the adoption was hidden from the adoptee. She actually found out while helping get records together for her father after his passing when she was 14 years old. Not exactly the best way to find out but, again, this was in a different time.
Furthermore, the best thing about this whole thing? They found each other due to the wonders of the internet. A message was posted back in 2002. It took years but they have found one another. My heart rejoices at this fact: technology is bringing together families that, in the past, were forever separated. There is hope for our future in this aspect of adoption, this search and reunion.
The quote at the end of the article made me think, of course.
The reunion has given Ms. Malloy the relief she’s long wanted.
“It completes my life,” she said.
I’m wondering how many mothers and fathers who relinquished in the closed adoption era would echo that sentiment. I know that it likely wouldn’t be all as we know that too many birth parents took the improperly given advice and “moved on” because they thought that they had no other option. But even as an open adoption birth mother, I am able to understand that feeling of a missing piece. The daughter I placed for adoption is no longer with me and there is that lack of completeness when holidays are celebrated or her birthday rolls around each year. How much deeper would that sting be if I didn’t know her whereabouts, if she was loved and cared for? And how much more complete would I feel upon reunion and learning that she had grown into an amazing woman?
I don’t know the answers. Only those who have been through relinquishment, search and subsequent reunion can answer that question. (And, as per usual, the answer would differ from birth parent to birth parent.) But, all the same, I was so happy to see this article shared in such a positive light. (From the place I used to call home, no less!)
Kudos to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and best of luck to this reunited family. They sound like they’ll be just fine when the honeymoon stage wears off.