iPhone as Catalyst

"Painful as it may be, a
significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a
direction that serves us-and those around us – more effectively. Look
for the learning.” – Louisa May Alcott

Twenty IT professionals crowded around small oval tables to toast the latest departing member of our team. I arrived late but found them with ease. My friend Jeffrey is tall and has a bald head. He sticks out from the crowd.

The environment was that of a typical neighborhood bar. Construction workers, tradesman and the token old guy here or there. The waitresses were young and  clad in the requisite black shirt and tight black pants. I have been here many times but each time find myself musing over the clientèle, the environment and the structure of this small town gin joint.

Jeffrey waved me over and I took a seat between him and an older female coworker. Conversation was well underway and I scanned the group for the guest of honor, my friend Lisa. I spotted her, waved hello and attempted to settle my belongings in a safe spot. My black gloves, white scarf and iPhone were fighting for space in my small black purse.

I tied the scarf around the handle, laid the gloves at the bottom of my Brighton purse and before attempting to squeeze in the iPhone I remembered I wanted to send a message to my friend in Philadelphia. He had a big work event that night and was expected to perform in an amateur talent show. His contribution was expected to be a spoken word performance of Gaiman’s "Nicholas Was.."  I wanted to wish him luck.

As I tapped the keyboard/screen on my iPhone, surrounding coworkers began to look at me. Male coworker next to me asks " is that an iPhone? Ooh, can I see?". Female coworker on my left scootches closer to me to get a demo. I joke that I should be getting a commission from Apple as I may be selling some phones tonight. Female coworker is impressed and I show her the camera and photo album features of the phone.  As I use my finger to quickly flip through the catalog, I introduce her to each person in the photos.

The very first photo in the album is my daughter.

"That is my daughter" I say.

"She is stunning…wait, your daughter? Huh?" coworker responds with a confused voice.

"Yes, my daughter. She is in her early 20s" I respond with mild hesitation. I know what is coming.

"I did not know you had a daughter. I thought you and your ex only had your boys" she questions.

"That is true. But I had my daughter when I was 17. I was sent away to live in maternity home and forced to surrender her to adoption. I found her a few years ago." I promptly reply.

Coworker freezes. 

And then she starts to cry.

She looks at me. I look at her. I look deep into her eyes and I know. I just know.

I see that familiar pain. I see the bleeding aching heart of another mother of adoption loss.

She is speechless. She is trying to talk but is uncomfortable that we are in this environment. I quickly scan the table and notice no one is looking at us. 

I pull her close to me and bury my face in her right ear. She begins to sob.

"Me too…. In the early 1960s…" she moans with that primal sob only other mothers who have lost their children to the adoption monster know.

I tell her its okay to cry. I assure her I understand. I acknowledge her pain. Tell her I am here to talk. I realize its not the best time.

She attempts to compose herself. She waves me off. I understand and respect the need  and so I begin conversation with another coworker.

Later, I grab her hand under the table and just hold it, gently squeezing it now and then to ground her. Before she leaves I give her my card and tell her to email or call me outside of work.  I remind her I have helped over thirty mothers and children find each other and if she wants to find her child, I can help. If she only needs to have someone listen, hold her hand, without casting shame or blame or judgment, she can call me.

I hope she does.

7 Thoughts.

  1. Wow.
    I talk about it too. I don’t know how people DON’T talk about it. I mostly get silence, and then a sudden change of subject. But I think it’s worth it.
    You’ve just proved that.

  2. ‘Tis the season. I met an adoptee last night who wants to search. It was interesting because she couched this very carefully until she saw that I (an adoptive mom) thought this was a grand idea, that closed records were inhumane, etc. So we talked for awhile about her feelings of loss and aloneness and I gave her my email and told her about you and that you helped families find each other. I hope she writes me.

  3. Oh, bless you; the work you do is so good. Your openness obviously can help so many on the road to searching, and hopefully finding.

  4. Gods it breaks my heart that there are so many who don’t or can’t talk about this. I hope she calls or writes you..

  5. wow, its amazing how one pinch of validation, or acknowledgment can open up a 40 year secret. That poor mother. All these years, nobody to talk to, i’m SO happy she has found YOU and so inspired by your rock of strength you give to so many.

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