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Tentative Steps

January 11, 2012

It’s been nearly two years (two years!!) since I last wrote here. I understand well that in the world of blogging, such silence is death. In the blogging world, when you stop positing, people stop paying attention. To some extent, I’m relieved, for now, to be under the radar. I stopped writing because I realized that none of us involved in this story was truly ready for a public narrative, that my words were causing harm to the people I least wished to harm. I’ve written in my professorial life about the “ethics of telling,” the personal responsibility that we have to the people in our stories. But it’s a tricky business, of course, writing the story of an adoption; there are so many people in the story, so many secrets, so many places to hide. I’m torn between my desire to write and my desire not to harm–because I’ve realized in these last two years that any words, any at all, will cause some degree of harm, no matter my intention. The only way to “do no harm” is to say nothing at all, to limit casualties to myself. Is it truly a casualty, though, for me to remain silent? Probably not. I could go my entire life and say nothing about any of this, nothing public, that is. I could learn to quiet any compulsion to speak, perhaps as my birth mother learned to do, and content myself with the life before me.

Then there is this: Last August, in a small college town in northern Indiana where my birthparents met, I took my mother’s hand and walked down a flight of stairs in a hotel on the edge of the college campus. At the bottom of the stairs were my birth parents, waiting. My mother went immediately for my birth mother. She threw her arms around her, crying “thank you thank you thank you,” just as she always said she would if she ever had the opportunity to meet the woman who gave us life, who gave us.

Several months later, nothing really any easier than before, I am compelled to take a ginger step back out of the silence through the psalm of thanksgiving. I learn forward, testing the air with my open, outstretched hand, like someone trying to find her way in the dark.


11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2012 6:05 pm

    There is a great good in sharing your story so that others in a similar situation can learn from it and perhaps feel less alone… if you were to be silent, is there harm in stifling that good?

    I’m also an adult adoptee, who never thought much about adoption in my life until reunion with my birth father. Now I feel like I’m starving for more stories on reunion! Thank you for sharing yours.

  2. May 1, 2012 3:54 pm

    My mothers have met once. It was very awkward and my birth mother thanked her and my adoptive mother did not respond to her at all. God bless your mother for handling this with grace. I wonder if your mother could write a blog for other adoptive mothers to read… so many adoptees struggle with their adoptive parents not being able to comprehend the desire to search.

  3. January 12, 2012 12:09 am

    A poem about an adopted child finding her parent

  4. January 11, 2012 11:35 pm

    Wow! Very moving! I am extremely thankful for the sweet and beautiful daughter I get the joy and privilege of raising every day, yet I am not sure how I would respond in such a situation as your adoptive mother did. I hurt for all the tears my daughter sheds for the grief she feels at the loss of her birth mother in her life. I know she has a great life in comparison to a life growing up in the orphanage she was in…but she has a great weight to carry in her life. I pray that one day she will allow the Lord to carry it for her.


  5. Dina permalink
    January 11, 2012 8:40 pm

    I made the mistake of reading this before all of my kids were dismissed. Your mother is such a beautiful woman. My tears are happy ones…for the life that your birth mother gave you and for the decades of love your parents have given you. Looking forward to the rest of the story! xxoo

    • jes97003 permalink*
      January 18, 2012 2:35 pm

      Thanks, Dina. xoxo

  6. AE Green permalink
    January 11, 2012 8:29 pm

    Can’t wait for more!

  7. Terry permalink
    January 11, 2012 8:05 pm

    And so the journey begins. No one truly knows what hidden treasures or disappointments you will find upon your way. I look forward to taking the journey with you – through you.

    • jes97003 permalink*
      January 18, 2012 2:34 pm

      Me, too, Terry!

    • Jon permalink
      January 22, 2012 5:16 pm

      I also look forward to he journey

      • jes97003 permalink*
        January 22, 2012 5:30 pm


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