A Mother's Story of Adoption
By Jeannie Trasolini
and I paced up and down the hotel room, the time dragging by
slowly by as we waited for him to arrive. Both of us had so
many butterflies in our stomachs we could have levitated. How
would he feel about us? Would we feel a connection? Would he
be angry or resentful? What if he had piercings, tattoos or,
heaven forbid, a mohawk!!!?
knock finally came on the door; we were going to meet the son
we had given up for adoption 24 years ago.
opened the door and the first words out of my mouth were "Oh
my God, you look like me!" We hugged each other and I felt
as if I had always known him. I was excited, thrilled, over
the moon. It was a huge roller coaster of emotions. It seemed
impossible that here we were, after all those years, looking
into the face of our grown-up baby boy -- we wanted to pinch
ourselves. It was joyous; it was momentous. It was a miracle.
he had questions for us. What were the circumstances and how
were we feeling when we gave him up for adoption? We answered
his questions and I told him, "I was a child having a child,"
and he understood. We explained that we didn't know that three
years later we would be married.
With all of
us talking a mile a minute, he told us his story. After adopting
him, his parents went on to have two daughters of their own.
The following week we met and bonded with his entire family,
sharing holiday celebrations and even taking a cruise together.
Back in the
sixties, when our son was born, there was a tremendous amount
of shame for girls who found themselves in "the family
way," and there were many young teenage girls who would
disappear for several months supposedly visiting relatives or
any other myriad reasons to explain their absence.
felt guilty and sad because I was sent to a home for unwed mothers,
but he was incredibly supportive; even so I felt lonely, abandoned
-- and that my mother was right, I was bad to the bone.
her constant criticism and judgment, I had grown up believing
that I was worthless and now, pregnant at 15, I had proved just
how unworthy I really was.
Keeping the secret of our son meant
that we had to live a lie. Shame is a terrible burden. How can
you be who you are when there is a large part of you that no
one knows about? I was terribly afraid that if anyone found
out my secret I would be diminished in their eyes. No one knew
about him for twenty-four years.
But as our sons grew older -- they
were now nineteen and fifteen -- we started to talk about the
possibility of finding the one that was missing. We had never
talked about our son, I guess if we did it would make him real,
and we would have to deal with the enormity of what we had done.
This was something I hadn't really understood until I became
the parent of two more sons and realized how much I loved my
children and how important they were in my life.
When we made the decision to find
him, we were determined that we would no longer be controlled
by our shameful secret. We had changed our belief about reuniting
with our son and now we felt that if anyone had a problem with
it, it would be their issue, not ours.
All of my life I had lived in the
dark, suffocating and soul-destroying shadow of shame and I
was determined that from now on, no matter what it took, I would
somehow find the courage to speak about him.
I remember many times I would have
a huge knot of fear in my belly and be absolutely dying inside
as I forced myself to speak about him, but I had made a vow
and I could not and I would not go back to the way I used to
be. My mantra became, "Feel the fear and do it anyway."
One summer, sitting around a campfire,
I began to tell our story, and as I did, a woman across the
campfire became visibly upset. Afterwards she came to talk to
me and I said, "You've given up a child haven't you?"
She answered, "Yes, I did, and because of you I'm going
to tell everybody." Since she had been crying so openly
I replied, "Honey, I think they already know." But
even as she spoke I could see that her shame was so deeply ingrained
in her, I doubt that she ever looked for the child that she
was so heartbroken about.
Each and every time I told my story,
people were amazed, thrilled and genuinely happy for me. No
one judged me! In fact, I became a catalyst for others to find
the courage to look for their own lost children, and in one
instance I inspired someone to introduce his eleven-year-old,
out-of-wedlock son to his family.
Confronting the shame and standing
up for myself was my first major step in becoming the person
I was meant to be. The young me was so sensitive about how people
would look at me or what they would say about me. I was a people
pleaser, hypersensitive because of my abusive childhood. And
my shameful secret only reinforced the message I had heard over
and over growing up: that I was worthless.
Once I accepted myself, I became
self-confident and aware. I was born a people person. Growing
up, I tried to get people to like me. Now I had come back to
who I was meant to be. I don't let others define me anymore.
I know who I am.
Shame is a terrible burden, it
forces you to live a lie, to hide yourself from even your closest
friends. I am happy to say I haven't felt shame in a very long
time. I have come full circle. My son is part of my life and
lives close by with his wife and two daughters -- interestingly,
in the same exact place that he spent the first month of his
life waiting for his adoptive family.
Jeannie Trasolini is currently
working on a memoir of which this short story is a part. She
is a budding photographer and travel writer.
"I can believe anything provided it is
-- Oscar Wilde
By Rosemary Sneeringer
Popcorn was flowing, stashes of chocolate and
bottles of beer were being consumed. Cackles of laughter were
heard from freshman girls in my dorm, sitting on the hall floor,
talking into the night. It was post mid-term finals and the
last night before Easter break.
The laughing and teasing continued when I got
a ride home with a bunch of guys. Every time the song "I
know this much is true," by Tears for Fears came on, they
would crank if up and even sing it to me because they knew I
hated that song. It made me giggle even more. I was feeling
at home in my college environment, having a lot of fun and making
some solid friendships.
I was happy as I closed the door to the car
and walked into my house. My parents greeted me cautiously and
my Dad asked me to sit at the kitchen table -- they had something
to tell me. My sister, 17, had been hitchhiking with another
girl. They were picked up by a man--
"Oh God, did he-"
"No, nothing like that, but he was drunk and hit a tree."
Her friend was unhurt, but my sister flew through
the windshield and hit the pavement. She was in a coma.
"When did this happen?"
"Last weekend," my Dad said.
"Why didn't anyone tell me?
"It was finals - we wanted you to concentrate . . .."
My sister and I were very close. My mind kept
searching the events over and over, thinking: if only this,
if only that. Not only did I feel crushed, I felt guilty and
responsible. I was one year older than Meg and more than once
we'd hitchhiked home.
Seeing her in the hospital was a shock. She
was breathing through a tube in her throat and her body was
blown up to twice her small size. Her neck was broken.
My mother cried and cried. Words like "tragedy"
and "much too young" were uttered by neighbors. Even
going to the grocery store was awkward. "I'm sorry about
your sister," said a guy who went to our high school. "That's
okay, it's not your fault," slipped out of my mouth. What
a strange custom to say "I'm sorry."
Before I went back to school, my Dad wanted
us to tease my sister, get her riled up so she would "wake
up." It was a last-ditch desperate effort in a time when
nobody knew much about comas.
At school, a heavy weight consumed my heart
and my throat. I could relate to the song "It's the end
of the world. . ." because I wondered how people could
just go about their business as if everything was normal. Didn't
they know the world had changed forever?
Four weeks later, I got the call. I took the
longest two-hour bus ride of my life. The wake was on St. Patrick's
Day and I was annoyed that my namesake aunt wore shamrock pins
on her jacket. Did she have to be cutesy on this of all days?
The funeral was packed - so many school friends. And my Mom
hung onto the casket as it was being lowered into the ground
at the cemetery, calling my sister's name and telling her she
Again, my Dad, broken and forlorn, sat me down
and explained that politicians and businessmen thought they
had power, but only the Man Upstairs really did.
When I would go home my Mom would want to visit
the cemetery, but I never felt like Meg was there - I could
contact her anywhere if I wanted to communicate with her. And
I had a strong conviction that she was okay - more than okay.
Sometimes my mom would say, "Why doesn't anyone talk about
Meggie?" And when we were discussing guardian angels, she
said "Where was Meg's guardian angel?" with a sob
in her voice.
Eight years later I moved to Los Angeles and
sought out spiritual experts. I was told that my sister's soul
had opted out early. She was accepted at the University of Rochester
and was on track to become a CPA - Dad's track. Her soul decided
to end this life early, because, as a guitarist, she really
wanted to be a performer. She had reincarnated already as a
violin prodigy. This was incredibly painful to hear when I was
thinking, How could she just go like that? What about US?
I took channeling class for 11 years, and one
of the other classes decided to pursue mediumship - talking
to people who had crossed over. The public was invited to attend.
When someone contacted a relative in a session, they could feel
the light and love emanating from them, and it made the grief
and acceptance process so much easier. Not many people cannot
deny having an experience.
In one case a woman's husband had been shot
by drug dealers in a phone booth as he was talking on the phone
with her. They had both been addicted to drugs, and when the
class contacted him, the dead man said he wasn't going to be
able to quit drugs as his wife had, so his soul sought another
life of spiritual growth.
Years later I bought a house from a young widow
with a three-year-old daughter whose husband, a roofer, had
died of skin cancer. Channeling with a friend, I said, "Maybe
this happened so she could be more independent, "and her
guide answered, "No one ever dies to benefit somebody else."
I was right to trust that feeling that my sister
was okay. I feel that people who die are free of emotional and
physical pain - they have remerged with love, connection and
oneness - and are choosing their next life based what their
soul wants to experience. Death is freeing -- even beautiful,
and at some level we all choose it - we are not its victims.
Of course those left behind feel a sense of loss, but feeling
sorry for those who have died does not really help them and
only adds to our grief. After all, grieving is never as long
for a 94 year old as 4 year old, but both have completed their
My belief is that those who have passed on want
you to be happy and celebrate the completion of their lifetime.
They are not buoyed up by your grief but by your happiness.
They want the same for you and more - more love and more light
and more joy in your own world, just as they are feeling, and
Rosemary Sneeringer is a copywriter, ghostwriter
and The Book Nurturer, helping people write their books, www.thebooknurturer.com.
Rosemary is currently at work on a memoir called The One Book.