Silver Linings Necklace

I’ve been getting so many messages with questions about a new necklace I posted on my social media. So instead of replying individually again and again. I’m going to take this time just to write a post about it and share with all of you.

My adoption search, journey, whatever you want to call it, it hasn’t been easy. At times it defiantly didn’t feel worth it. At times I wished I had never even bothered with it. One time I even gave up with my search. I thought my searched ended 7 years ago. I closed that chapter and walked away from it.

In February everything changed. You can read about it Here and Here. Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind of a few months. I am still trying to process it all and wrap my head around it all. It’s truly been so surreal.

Just before my 35th birthday I can finally say that I truly do know my roots, where I come from, and who I look like. And can I just say I still find it completely weird and surreal to actually look like someone else? To see pieces of me in other people?! Its so weird, and so wonderful. I never realized that seeing people that look like you could bring you such comfort. Like I said, it’s weird.

These last few months have been so emotional on so many levels. I can’t even properly put it all into words. Everything happening at once, learning that the family I thought I was part of I wasn’t, trying to figure out where I belonged, doing a DNA test, meeting my bio Dad for the first time and then put into lockdown and isolation. It has all been a lot.

So, that brings us to my new necklace.

My silver lining. Get it, because its a silver bar necklace. I know, so clever, right?! So here’s what my necklace is and why I got it. Its a silver bar necklace with the date of the first time I met my bio Dad, and on the other side are the coordinates to where we first met. This entire lockdown has been stressful and emotionally draining all on its own, mix in not being able to see these amazing new people I just found out I’m connected to, and its been a whole new level of hell for me. So I got this necklace. This necklace holds several meanings to me. It’s my silver lining. That, even though my adoption search was complete shit, that it was so hard and ended so badly (or so I thought) that there is a silver lining to it all, I found him and his/my family. That even though I can’t see my bio Dad at least I got to meet him once before all this, and that means more to me than I can ever express. Its for the first time I met him and my whole world changed, the first time I felt like I belonged and felt complete. It’s my silver lining, knowing that I can’t see him now, but at least I know who he is (finally), and will be able to see him again. It represents and holds meaning for all the things I can’t put into words yet, all the things that have changed for me. That day was so much more than just simply meeting someone for the first time. Everything changed for me that day, I was effected in ways and changed in ways I never thought possible. And it all comes down to that day and that place.

Who would have thought one small necklace could mean so much? Pretty crazy, huh?

For the people messaging me and asking why, because I already got the adoption tattoo. I got my adoption tattoo long before I even found my birth mother, let alone my bio Dad. So yes, well he is automatically represented in my tattoo, I felt something else special needed to be done to recognize the date I met him and for everything else that changed for me. And honestly if the world was open I would have ended up with another tattoo, which I will probably still get at some point. But for now, I have my necklace.

So stay home, stay safe. Wash your hands. And hopefully soon we will be able to be with friends and family again.

~Michelle

Finding The Final Pieces

I think its safe to say my adoption search for my birth parents is finally over. 17 years after my search first started. 7 years after finding my birth mother, I finally know who my birth father is. For the first time, at age 34, I can finally answer the most basic questions, who’s your birth father and who do you look like.

See, two weeks ago shit hit the fan. You can read about that here.

The last two weeks are a blur. In two weeks everything changed. I lost the family I thought I had, and found a whole new one. I’m still trying to process it all. What it all means. All the new connections I have, all the new family members I have.

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My Adoption Tattoo

How can you even begin to process all this?

I know there are adoptees and birth parents and adoptive parents that read my blog and reach out to me. And how I wish I had some words of wisdom here. But the truth, I have no freakin idea what to do, how to process this, what the next steps should be, how to handle them.

I have so many conflicting emotions, all the feelings, its hard to sort them out and see clearly. I don’t know which to follow, which will subside, I don’t know what to embrace and what to let go.

Maybe if this journey had been spread out, and I had more time to deal with the feelings as they came on, instead of everything happening in one day.

In one day, everything changed. Then I had to wait two weeks for results from a paternity test. The longest two weeks ever. It was torture. I was talking to a stranger, spending hours every day talking to him, getting to know him, not knowing what the DNA test would say. I was mad at myself every day for getting attached to this person that could potentially turn out to have no connection to me. Then we got the results. We match. We are without a doubt Father and Daughter. And now here we are. Here I am, trying to process. Trying to figure out what I want and need, while considering everyone else. Yes this is my story, my journey, but it doesn’t just affect me. It affects my kids, my husband, my family, my birth father, his wife, his family. My circle just got so much bigger, and I want to take care of it, and do right by everyone.

Everyone keeps asking how I am. And I say fine, good, alright. Every answer, but the truth. Not because I’m lying, but because I don’t know. I honestly can not tell you how I feel. Part of me wants to run to these people, part of me wants to hide, part of me is happy, part of me is scared. So very scared. Scared something bad will happen. Even scared something good will happen. Figure that one out? If you do, let me know, because I can’t explain that one. You get the point. Every conflicting feeling, I have it right now.

The last time I found a birth parent, it didn’t go well. I thought I had all my answers. I thought I had all the dots connected. And I was ready to close the book on that chapter and leave it behind me. I basically did. I had walked away. I had gotten on with my life and came to terms with it. I was not prepared for all this. I never dreamed this was even a possibility.

And through out all of this, all I can think of is the damn song from Frozen 2: “Into The Unknown”. And also “When I am Older”. Because maybe one day this will all make sense and I will understand why things happened the way they did. Why I had to go through so much pain first. Why I had to wait till I was 34 for answers. Why it happened this way.

~ Michelle

I took a DNA test and found out that my adoption journey and search isn’t over yet 7 years after I thought I found my birth family.

If you have been following along with this blog you will know that adoption is near and dear to my heart. I am adopted, you can read about that here and I am also a birth mother, you can read about there here. I even have an Adoption Tattoo.

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I knew my entire life that I was adopted. There was no moment that stands out as “the moment” that everything changed and I found out. My family talked very openly about it. When I turned 18 I began the legal search for my birth mom and hoped that she would lead me to my birth father. As my birth father was not aware of the adoption, or me, he was not on any paper work, or at least thats what my paperwork said. It took nearly 10 years to track down my birth mother (Don’t even get me started on the government and the stupid ways they handle adoption and records). That was about 7 years ago. She was able to tell me about my birth father. Finally I would get answers and learn about my roots and where I came from.

Finding out about my birth father was a hard pill to swallow. Finding out that he did in fact know about me my entire life and wanted nothing to do with me was hard. Dealing with that rejection was hard. But at least through him I did find a half sister. We bonded and got to know each other. For the past 7 years I’ve talked to her off and on, watched my nephew grow. I’ve talked to other relatives, aunts and uncles and cousins. Then my birth father died. I had never once talked to him or met him, but still I mourned his death. I was so angry with him for so long. For years I held so much anger towards him.

And then last year my son I gave up for adoption did a DNA test on one of those sites. He was curious to see what his ethnicity was. Because even though he knows who his birth parents are, both of his birth parents are actually adopted as well. So even though I am in my sons life I can not give him certain answers. A few months later my sons mother offered to buy me a DNA test on the same site so that we would be able to determine which side of the family comes from where. So I did. I didn’t think anything of it really. I didn’t expect much out of it. I figured I knew. I was doing it for my son.

So I got my results. I didn’t really check the DNA matches since I figured I knew what would be there. But then I noticed something as the matches started coming in. No one had the same last name that my birth father had. So I searched through the over 6000 matches on the site, no one had his last name. It didn’t even show up in peoples family trees as a distant relative. The truth started to sink in. The man I believed to be my birth father, the man I had been so angry at, the sister I had gotten to know, they weren’t actually related to me at all. She’s not my sister. He’s not my birth father.

A part of me didn’t want to deal with that. A part of me just said “hey maybe no one in that family has ever signed up on this site. Thats possible. They all know each other, so why would they.”

One morning I woke up to a message “Hi, it looks like I’m your cousin” and she proceeded to fill me in on so much family history that that was clear that she was not related to my birth mother and no possible way to be related to who I had believed was my birth father.

I tried to talk to my birth mom about it. She insisted that he was my birth father, until I told you about the DNA test site. And the truth came out.

And now here I am, at the age of almost 35, and after 10 years of searching, 7 years of accepting what I thought were truths, getting to know people, mourning a death, I am back to square one. I have no idea who my birth father is. I never thought this would happen. I never thought I would search for so long for a family just to have them taken away again and start all over.

So apparently my adoption story is not over. Not even close. My journey continues.

And now I deal with trying to find my actually real birth father, and possibly being rejected again and going through that all over again.

Michelle

Two Weeks Is Not Enough Time

Have you ever had so many conflicting emotions? Feeling all the feels all at once? So many different things pulling at you that you don’t know which way is up? Thats been me the last few weeks. I feel so emotionally drained and raw right now. I feel like emotionally hung over. It is so hard to explain. So bare with me as I try.

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An old picture of all 4 kids together. With my daughter actually sitting on the lap of my oldest sons (adoptive) moms lap. This picture means the world to me.

I got to spend 2 weeks with my oldest son. My son I gave up for adoption. I am so blessed to have a relationship with him. To get to know him, see him, talk to him. I am forever thankful that his mom allows him to come visit us. She is truly the most incredible woman ever.

My 3 younger kids absolutely love it when their big brother comes to visit. They look up to him so much. They all get along SO well. It’s amazing to see them together. It makes my heart so incredibly happy to see them all together. But it also hurts so much. It is so cliche to say that its bitter sweet, but basically, yeah it is. I am so happy to see them all together, to have all my kids under one roof, to sit down to family meals. I feel complete. But I also feel like there is a giant hole in my chest. I feel like my chest is being ripped apart with every breathe I take.

Here is my son. Someone I carried within me for 9 months. Someone who I love so fiercely. Someone who looks like me. Sounds like me. Someone who is apart of me. And yet that isn’t my son. I didn’t raise him. I don’t know him the way I know my other kids. I don’t get to hold him like I can my other kids. He doesn’t call me mom, because again, I’m not his mom. I see a scar on him and I have no clue how he got it. Yet when I look at my other kids I can tell you every story behind every scar. I don’t know his likes and dislikes. I don’t know what those subtile faces mean. I’m looking at my son who isn’t my son. It’s hard. So incredibly freakin hard.

I love having him here. I love being around him. I love spending time with him. I’m over joyed every time he comes to visit. There are no words to properly describe the love and joy I feel. But there are also no words to describe how equally heart wrenching it is. How much it breaks me every time I say goodbye to him. How much is breaks me when he’s here and seeing him with his siblings, sitting at our family table and knowing it won’t last, knowings it is only for a few days.

I got to spend two awesome weeks with all my kids together. Two weeks that went by in the blink of an eye. Two weeks I will forever be thankful for.

~ Michelle

The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane – Book Review

I recently read The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, and I just have to share it with you.

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I was drawn to the idea of this book because it is about adoption, which as an adoptee  and birth mother, adoption is a huge part of my life. I was scared of this book when I first got it, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how adoption was going to be shown in this book. I scared that this book would completely break my heart. I was scared that this book would show adoption as something horrible – which it is not, not always. This book surprised me. This book made me laugh and it made me cry, for many different reasons. This book is beautifully written.

The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane is an amazing story about family, traditions, love, family separated by culture, and great distances, adoption and the love a mother has for her child. Li-yan’s mother for her, and Li-yan for her daughter, and her daughters adoptive mother’s love for her adopted daughter. A mothers love is strong and never ending.

Lets start the with the premise of the book. The book is about a girl named Li-yan and her family. They live in the tea mountains of China. They live a quiet life in their village away from the rest of the world. They are very much about traditions, traditions set long ago. The way Lisa See describes it all, the village, the forest, the tea, you can see it all. You can taste the tea, you can smell the tea. Lisa See paints such vivid pictures of Li-yan’s life you are left feeling as if you actually knew her and visited her. The way she goes into Li-yan’s family traditions, so much detail. I was left feeling like I had actually met all these people from the book, and was sad when I finished the book. Thats how you know a book is good- when despite the ending, you are sad its done.

But it was not the talented writing that drew me to this book and kept me reading, it was the story of adoption. If that makes sense. I was so invested in finding out what happened to Li-yan and her daughter.  It was being able to connect so strongly with two very different characters. I felt so many emotions reading this book. I could relate to two special characters on so many levels throughout this book.

From a birth moms, and mothers, point of view my heart broke for Li-yan during her pregnancy and as she gave her baby away, and all the days after that. From an adoptees point of view I could relate to her daughters story. I felt the struggle of both of them. I felt the heartache of both of them. I felt the longing of both of them. I couldn’t help buy think of my own story while reading this. When Lisa See describes Li-yan watching her daughter get taken away, I couldn’t help but remember the day I walked out of the hospital and watched someone else hand off my son to his new family. When she writes about Li-yan’s daughter returning to China for the first time I remember my first time going to the city where I was born. My own adoption is considered local, so I could not relate fully to the cultural differences that Li-yan’s daughter experienced. But I still felt her struggle and feelings.

Adoption is tricky to write and talk about. Not everyone is happy about it. Not everyone likes it. Not every one agrees with it. Yes this book was one of the best books I have read about adoption. Could parts have been improved on? That depends on who is reading it and their point of view on adoption. To me, the book was beautiful. The whole book, not just the adoption aspect of it. The background story, the detail, the other characters. The writing was fluid, the writing was beautiful.

This book left me wanting more. I actually spent some time researching China, tea making, adoption in China, the tea mountains in China, the history that Lisa See talked about in her book. I started this book strictly interested in the adoption story line in it and left loving every part of this book.

I will say the ending upset me! I won’t tell you what happened, as I don’t want to spoil it. But I could have kept on reading. I wanted to keep on reading. I needed more. I’m sure the author, Lisa See, left it that way so you could paint on your picture, write your own story. But I didn’t want to, I wanted to keep reading her story.

If you read this book, which I recommend you do, please share your thoughts and feelings of it with me. I would love to hear your thoughts on this book.

~ Michelle

*I received a copy of this book from Simon and Schuster, all thoughts are strictly my own. 

Adoption And The Holidays

Being a Birth Mom is never easy. It is not glamours. It never leaves you. It changes you forever. Your heart is forever missing a piece. Sometimes it is really hard. Sometimes it hits you like a brick wall. Sometimes you feel like you can’t breathe with the missing piece. Sometimes you feel like you are falling apart.

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I am a Birth Mom. My son was placed for adoption right at birth. His mom was at the hospital during my labour, heck, she even stood by my side while I pushed. I ended up in an emergency c-section and she was actually able to see him first and spend time with him before I was. They were always meant to be a family. I love my son. But he was always destined to be her son. But that doesn’t make it any easier. I miss him every day. I think about him every day. I always think “what if?!” Always. All my children are always on my mind, every day, every single day. I sometimes even set a place at the table for him. Its hard.

I am so incredible thankful that he does have the family he has. As much as I miss him, as much as my heart breaks, as much as I feel like I am missing out on everything, I also feel connected. My sons mother has always included me. Sent me photos, videos, visits, phone calls, FaceTime, anything that connects us. I am forever grateful.

Last week she went above and beyond. Although I am not sure she knows just how above and beyond it was. How much it truly meant to me. How much it completely broke my heart, shattered it, and yet made me feel whole all at once. This incredible woman, whom I love so deeply, sent me videos and pictures during his school Christmas concert. It was the most beautiful thing. She didn’t have to. She could have waited till it was over. She could have just told me about it. She could have just enjoyed it for herself. But she didn’t. She included me. She shared with me.

I sat there and cried, I cried sad tears, heartbroken tears, proud mom tears, happy tears, so many different emotions. I held my daughter as we watched together. She didn’t grasp just how important all of this was, but I sure did. It was a moment I will never forget. A moment I am forever thankful for.

I wasn’t able to physically be there, I hardly ever am, but I was and always am there in spirit. This made the connection for me even stronger.

Being a Birth Mom during the holidays is extra hard. When you are surrounded by family, and someone is still missing, a part of you is missing, your mind is always wondering what that person is doing, wishing you could be with them. This little action of her sharing with me made me feel so connected and complete during such a hard time.

It really is the small things that mean the most. Small acts that have the biggest impact.

~ Michelle

 

Talking To My Kids About Adoption

Something was brought to my attention and I felt the need to write this down. I am adopted, and I am a birth mom. There is no denying or hiding it. Its a major part of me. And really it is something I would never try to hide or deny. There is no shame in adoption, in being in any part of adoption. And there is also the  minor detail about having an adoption tattoo on my arm in plain sight that I show off proudly.

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Growing up I don’t remember any single moment that I was told I was adopted. It was a simple fact that I grew up with. When I placed my son for adoption I knew without a doubt that any future children I had would grow up knowing all about him. Fast forward 3 children later and they all know about him. My daughter is only 2, but she has spent every summer of her life with him, and sees him on FaceTime, and sees his pictures around the house. She may not understand, but she knows he’s her brother.

No, telling my children that they have an older sibling that was placed for adoption did not hurt them, or scar them in any way. No I did not tell them “too soon”. Well unless you mean I talked about their older brother even before they could talk, then sure, maybe it was “too soon” as they couldn’t talk about it and join in the conversation.

My children have grown up with the fact that they have an older brother. Being that my oldest son was placed into an open adoption. My oldest son was able to meet my 3 younger children all before they were 6 months old and been able to visit them every few years.

Adoption isn’t something to be hidden away, kept in secret, only talked about in dark corners in the middle of the night in whispers.

I am adopted. I am a birth mom. Why should my children grow up not knowing these things?

Yes, my children miss their older brother. Yes, I miss him. Yes, it hurts me to know they miss him. Yes, I have answered many, many, many questions over the years and will probably continue to do so. Yes it is hard, some days harder than others. Yes, we have all cried countless tears. Is it worth it? Yes. My children all know each other and get to grow up together and create their own special bond together. Seeing all four of my children together, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Adoption should be talked about. All the time. Adoption is not a bad thing. It is nothing to be ashamed about. Adoption is a beautiful thing. Adoption is all about love and family. Because of adoption my family has grown in numbers and love, a love that crosses the oceans.

Just as my kids grow up knowing that the sun rises and sets, they know that they have a brother who has another family and has his own life path to follow, but that he is still their brother no matter where he lives.

~ Michelle