The Reunion: The greatest lesson of all [part 3 of 3]

It was one year ago TODAY, May 12, that I met her.

I have kept it mostly quiet because this is also her story. 

I asked her permission to share my insights and “my side” and she’s the best, so she gave her blessing. 

A little background on the adoption, it was called semi-open.

This meant we got to pick her parents and have contact through the agency until she was 3 years old… After that, all contact was cut off.

By a fluke of the agency we found some papers with a last name when she was 5 and then the internet and search engines caught up and we were able to locate an address. We mailed a letter to her parents and ended up exchanging emails, so they would update us once a year or so via email, but never had direct contact with her. 

Who knew social media and the internet would have been a thing?

This also allowed me to “see” what she looked like, before our “airport reunion” scene that I played over and over in my head for years.

The year she was to turn 18 was hard. 

I felt like I had waited 18 years for this time!

I was obsessed.

I would try and look her up online.

I wondered if she wanted to meet me.

Most of all… was I ready?

Would she be proud of me?

Ultimately, I knew, her birthday would pass, as it did every year, with no fanfare, no change, and just a day where I would wander around knowing what I knew, while everyone else went on with their lives. 

18 years of silent grief, much, as anyone feels on the anniversary of the birthdays and deaths of loved ones. 

I would stand and wonder, as I did every year, what did she look like? 

What is she doing?

And I would remember what I was doing on this day in 1997.

Memories of holding her and all the memories leading up to the adoption and after would all resurface. 

Her birthday came and went. 

I heard from her adoptive dad that she would be moving away to college, so I waited until she moved to send any correspondence. 

I sent a big care package a few months later to her dorm.

Letters from family members, everyone congratulating her and letting her know “we’re here! and would love to meet you”

She didn’t respond.

To say I wasn’t heart broken would be a lie.

However, I was also very aware that I was not “her mom”, I was a stranger. 

She was also, still, a teenager and it may be YEARS if ever, that she might be interested to meet. 

I had waited 18 years, so what was a few more?

In the spring, I learned that she moved back to California.

I had been asked to speak at The Lioness Retreat on May 7th and planned on staying in California for about 10 days.

I took a gamble and emailed her, letting her know I would be around and suggested we meet.

She replied with a very quick, “Sure”

WHAT?!

Oh shit.

I didn’t expect a reply.

OK.. breathe… Ok… Ok…

What?

OMG

Ok, let’s do this..

OMG I’m not ready! 

STFU! Just do this!

I needed a plan… 

No balloons?

No posters?

No airport? 

This wasn’t how it was supposed to look.

I wanted it to be private. I wanted to talk to her.

Yet we needed to be in public.

A FAR cry from the big airport scene… 

We made plants to meet on a Thursday at 1pm in an IHOP, where I knew it would be very quiet at lunchtime.

Yes. IHOP.

It was an hour drive to see her and the whole time I’m shaking, crying and asking all kinds of questions to my husband,

Do I hug her? Am I allowed? Will that be weird?”

He said, “Of course you hug her! Just don’t give her a creepy hug.”

“OMG! What does that mean? What’s a creepy hug? Of course I’m going to give a creepy hug! OMG I can’t do this”

“You’ll be fine.”

“You know what I never thought of? What does she sound like? I have no idea what her voice sounds like”

Nate dropped me off and IHOP and left. I told him to text me from the outside when he saw her.

I waited.

“She’s coming”

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG

but… nothing.

I waited a few more minutes.

“Whats going on?”

“I don’t know she’s not going in”

Deep breaths. 

Good lord.

I’m staring at my phone waiting for an update when I hear a sweet voice, “Hi there”

I turned and she was right there…

I jumped up to hug her and this. was. the. best. part..

I was afraid to hug her too long and was going to pull away, but she didn’t.

She grabbed me tight and she cried a little…

and I squeezed her tighter and I cried.

“I can’t believe you’re here! I can’t believe you’re here”

I probably said it 2,000 times.

“Oh my God, you are SO adorable”

(she was seriously the cutest human I’ve ever seen)

OMG I can’t believe she’s here! 

She sat down across from me and I just sat in awe.

Her voice!

OMG her voice!

It was so sweet. So cute.

She looked so much like her dad, yet her personality was so… me.

We talked, told stories, we had some laughs at a few of our similarities. 

I didn’t want it to end, but I knew I needed to let her go home. 

After we left I realized we were wearing nearly the same outfit… a jumpsuit and chuck taylors.

I cried all the way home.

I cried because she was everything and more than I ever imagined.

She was kind, sweet, funny and just…. the best.

I cried because I never wanted to forget that hug.

I cried because I was so, so, so proud of her.

I cried because I didn’t have to wonder anymore if I did the right thing.

I cried for 18 years of waiting

I cried because she was still perfect

and this…

While I was so worried about her being proud of me… once we met, I realized that I didn’t care what she thought of me.

I.

Was proud.

Of me.

Courtney, I love you and you mean more than the world to me. You gave me a reason to live and to stay. I am honored to have been your birth mother and I pray that we can continue our new journey and I’m excited to see how our story unfolds.

You taught me that we are all perfect, beautiful, and amazing. We are all doing our best and deserve grace and compassion. Most of all, you made me strive to be better for you, and I learned, that all along, I just needed to be better for myself.

You’re my angel and I’m your biggest fan. 

PS Feel free to reply, but if this resonates with you or you’d like to leave a comment, please do so here

 

WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE

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