Cosmic Treasures (or Not)

This past week has been a strange one for me. A number of incidents occurred that I can only chalk up to the universe giving me yet another good old adoption bonk on the head. Consider the following.

I Heard Her Voice

My daughter posted not one, but two, YouTube videos to her public twitter feed. Naturally I listened and within a matter of moments was in tears. She was acting silly with coworkers. I heard her voice clearly, saw her mannerisms, how she sounds and moves her body. It was a bit overwhelming to say the least. Overall? Bittersweet. I appreciated the opportunity to hear and see her but oh, my, did it send me spiraling backwards for a few days.

(This is the moment where the adoption trolls usually come out and tell me I am violating my daughters’ privacy by watching her twitter feed. I disagree. If she puts it public for the entire world to see, I have free reign to watch it as well, so go away, trolls).

P.S. She has a really nice voice.

P.P.S.I HEARD MY DAUGHTERS VOICE!

If He Had Married Me

I left my employer of eight years two weeks ago. I started at a new employer, doing similar work but in a completely new industry. Imagine my surprise on the second day when I hear the receptionist page Suzan [Birthfathers Last Name].

Yes, I now work with someone named the exact same name I would have had if my daughters father chose to marry me in 1985 instead of, well, not marrying me.

Well Meaning Friends

My 30 year high school reunion is coming up this weekend. The invite went out via Facebook and there was an associated group. This means I can now see names/profiles of former high school classmates and they can see me even if we are not Facebook friends. I perused the list and also the ticket sale site to see who was going. I was pleased to learn a friend (now a resident of Florida) will be in attendance. Seeing her name on the reunion page reminded me of what must have been our 20 year reunion. I found my daughter just before that reunion and I had a line put in the reunion program directed to that friend. It simply said friend’s name, followed by I FOUND HER! I was so excited back then. I was so hopeful, so happy, so wanting to share my daughter with the world that had denied her. I knew friend would understand the message. She did. In fact, the instant she read it she sought me out and we hugged and cried.

Ten years later and I am pretty much in the same place. I found her – that’s about it.

(I am still going to hug that friend this coming weekend when I see her. )

Uncertain on Meaning Friends

Earlier today, one of those reunion “friends” took it up themselves to send me a link to my daughters’ fathers’ Facebook page. The message said “did you know he was on Facebook?”.

Ugh. Jesus H. No. Why would I?

Why was friend looking (birthfather did not go to my high school and is not going to our reunion) and why did friend feel it necessary to share with me?

I responded and stated “No, I did not know”. I had nothing more to say. To me it felt vaguely like rubbing a dog’s nose in their own accident. It felt callous and mean.

But perhaps I am overly sensitive.

(Yes, I looked at his profile. ‘Nuff said.)

 

 

 

 

Polish Triggers

Social anxiety takes over as I approach the Queen Ann style home used by the Polish American Foundation of New Britain. While I am excited to improve my Polish language speaking skills, I am nervous about meeting the strangers.   I know once I get in the building and into the classroom the feelings will begin to dissipate.

Parking is a bit confusing and I make two drive-bys before finding the parking lot behind their building. I am a few minutes early so I decide to check my email, Instagram and other items as well as attempt to calm my anxious stomach and racing heart. I would prefer to walk in with someone else rather than stumble around wondering where to go and what door to go into.

I retrieve my iPhone from the bowels of my overly large Michael Korrs bag. At the very moment I tap the Instagram app icon there is a loud knocking on my driver’s side window. Startled, I fling my phone into the air and it lands on the passenger seat with a low thud.

“Come to class! Come to class” beckons the strange women outside my window.

“Oh, hi, I arrived a bit early so I thought I would wait.”

“Nie. Nie. Witamy!”

Childhood memories recall the meaning of nie so I exit my car and follow her in the side door. The interior of the building impresses me. The varnished oak wainscoting and lincrusta-clad walls cause me to spin my head to and fro in appreciation. I walk closer to a wall with the hope of touching it when the women who welcomed me in the parking lot bellows once again.

“Come. Come. What is your name?”

“Bednarz. Suz.”

“Ah, Bednosh” she says using the Polish pronunciation.

“Yes, that is me.”

“And you? Who are you?”

I turn and look around the room unaware there was anyone else present. A young woman, likely early 20’s is standing directly behind me. Where did she come from?

“Lauren”

“Last name?”

Lauren stammers for a second and then offers up her last name. I am startled. Lauren’s last name and first name is the identical name carried by my daughter’s half-sister on her natural father’s side. Lauren carries the very Polish sounding surname that my daughter would have had.

Recovering from the jolt, I study Lauren. I know the age of birth dads’ daughter. This young woman is definitely older. It is not her. Related? I am not going to ask as doing so may require me to state how I know him.

“Okay, pani, class is up the stairs, end of hall on your left.”

Lauren follows behind me as I ascend the grand staircase of the 1800 era home.

Walking into the room I see three older gentlemen and three younger women already seated. I smile at them all and find a seat at the farthest edge of the long table. Lauren sits directly to my right. She casts her eyes down and begins to take notes on her pad.

“Okay, before we get started lets go around the table and introduce ourselves. Who are you, what is your connection to Poland, why do you want to learn to speak it, and anything else you want to share.”

Suz (another one!)

Tatiana (who clearly looks very Polish)

Kathy.

Amy. Daughter to Kathy.

Julie (same name as my Grandmother!)

“I am a Julie and I am an adoptive mother. I adopted my daughter from Poland many years ago. She is older now. Asking questions about her native tongue. I thought it would be nice if I learned it. She no longer lives at home. She does not speak it but is interested so I thought it would be nice if I tried.”

Lauren (of bdad last name) says something.

It is my turn. I am still reeling a bit about the adoptive mom just now learning about her adopted child’s (now an adult) culture. My head is spinning with the last name incident, now this.

“Uh…I am Suz and I…..”

—–

Class is nearing the end. Discussion ensues regarding the twenty of us in the room, nearly all raised by Polish speaking parents who chose not to teach us their native tongue. Mr. Older Gentlemen end of table chimes in about how not only have we lost the native tongue but the “young generations” (is that me?) have also lost the practice of Catholicism.

I gulp.

So this is how it is going to be. Learning my deceased father’s language means I also have to immerse myself once again in deeply held religious beliefs that told me I was a bad girl for getting pregnant out of wedlock but a good girl for abandoning my first born child to a stranger adoption.

I sit there and bite my tongue. I have nothing to offer this conversation. Correction. I do but I will not. I have seven more weeks with this group and I do not want to show them so early that I can swear in Polish.

That much my father did teach me.

Mothers and Sisters Day

When I told my now 15 year old son about his half sister, he was about 7.  The conversation happened right after I found her and I was full of emotion and hope.  I believed back then there was a chance she might meet me and by extension, him.  I did my best explaining to him. I cried while my son sat listening, watching, questioning and later, overwhelmed with the information, spinning in his chair. My ex-husband, his father, sat by and said nothing.  The entire experience is documented in my post, Telling Children.

I never held such a conversation with my youngest son, soon to be 11.  I had hoped, at least in the early days that my daughter, his sister, would be common talk in our house. I foolishly hoped he would grow up with an awareness of her and that I would not have to make a big production about it.  Read any of my old posts and you will see how foolish I was in those days. The naiveté, the hope, the ignorance.

As my reunion slowly turned from what I hoped it would be to what it is today, the talk of my daughter, his sister, also turned.  I put away her pictures. I stopped sending her gifts (at her request); I stopped sending cards signed by her brothers and me. Gone were the days where my oldest son drew her pictures, asked about her, and told me she was a total “hottie”.  In its place came silence, tears, and stilted conversations.  Despite my best efforts to encourage dialogue, my oldest son picked up on my angst.  While I never told him to, and never would, he stopped asking.  As a result, the free flow of information I thought would find its way to the eyes, ears and soul of my youngest son also stopped.

I have been aware of this. There have been opportunities to have that conversation, again, yet I let them pass. I have seen what my reunion did to my oldest son. I saw his confusion. I answered his questions like “why doesn’t my sister want to know me?” and “what did I do to her?” and finally “If adoption was so good for her, why isn’t she happy about it? Why isn’t she nice to you?” as best I could. My answer was almost always “I don’t know sweetie. I hope some day you can ask her.” For that is the truth, I don’t know. Only she knows. I am aware that anything I say will influence his perception of her both now and in the future so I avoid the questions, cease the conversation, and go on.

Yet in doing so, I left my youngest behind.  I want to think I was, or am, protecting him. Today, on mother’s day of all days, I came to the conclusion that I have to find a way to tell him something. I have to accept that another one of my children will make an installment on the loan of my heart taken out by Easter House.  Only now, it will be my youngest sons’ heart I offer up to the emotional bank teller.

It’s the same question each time. A statement of utter confusion with big brown eyes looking anxiously up at me.

“I have a sister?”

Today the question came while we were sorting old photos.  My husband and I had recently cleaned out our basement and I had three Rubbermaid bins full of photos, papers, books, and more from my first marriage.  My sons loved sorting the photos, asking who was who, laughing at my bad hair and excessive weight and the mullet their father sported in college.

Photos were being tossed into various piles when my youngest son says “Who is this?”. I look over and see him holding a picture of my daughter. The picture was taken on her college campus. I had saved the picture early in reunion when she once gave me access to her Facebook.  I had scoured those photos, saved every single one of them and later printed them all at my local Walgreens.  Most I had put into a large scrap book, again, early reunion.  A few extras seem to have escaped the album and were now mixed in with all the other family photos, much like they should have been all along.

“That’s your sister, [Amended Name]” I say.

“What? My sister? I have a sister?” he says thoroughly confused.

My oldest son utters a sound of exasperation and begins to grab more photos. As I struggle to respond, he does it for me.

“Uh, yeah. You have a sister.” He says in a lower, somewhat uncomfortable tone.  He is protecting me. I can feel it.  He wants to shut the conversation down.  He knows that I have told his brother this before. He is likely annoyed his brother is asking again but further annoyed that it is going to bother me, and presumably him as well.  What he does not know is that he was given a lengthy conversation, time to ask questions, time to talk about his sister where as his inquisitive brother was not given such an opportunity.  Mommy expected him to pick up the news and figure it out all on his own. Bad mommy.

“What, you mean, like Sienna? But she is my stepsister..,” he says even more confused as he mentions the child of his father’s new wife.

“No. Not her.” Oldest son says with a tone of annoyance.  He has that brotherly duh.shut up.stupid tone to his voice. He is jumping in and attempting to quash the conversation.

I should have jumped in here. I should have said something. The good mother I am supposed to be, I think I am, the one I try so hard to be, would have used this as an opening to that long overdue conversation.

I couldn’t.

But I will.

I just need to find the words. New, age appropriate, developmentally on-target words.  While I have told him many times before, I clearly need to tell him again, in a different way.

Yes, you have a sister.