Saturday, April 20, 2013

Adoption Advocation, Life Heritage and Ghost Stories ... OH MY!

I found this in the archives and it made me smile. Earlier this week, I asked on my Facebook page what people's thoughts were about birthdays in adoption. I had some great responses, insights and stories from all sides of the triad.

This, I think, is my favorite writting about a birthday (my daughter's 16th Birthday to be exact). I wrote this several years ago, and the irony, circumstances and eventual discovery are quite a journey. Take some time for a good ghost story, with a happy ending!

Adoption Advocation, and Life Heritage and Ghost Stories ... OH MY!

I am going to incorporate positive avocation for adoption, passing on of one's heritage in adoption, and a ghost story all into one post. Inspired by Halloween perhaps, pull up a chair and let me tell you a little story. (Technically this should be a Happy Thought ... but I liked the title by itself so know that this is going to be incredibly positive!)

Have you lost a loved one? Felt some kind of force in your life that makes you think that they could still be there, watching over you? Making sure that you follow through with important things in life? Or just to let you know that they have your back, will be your guardian angel for as long as you walk the Earth? I have one. She lets me know quite frequently that she is here, right beside me as she has always been ... for as long as I can remember.

My biggest supporter in my decision to choose adoption for my children was my mother. She told me time and time again how proud she was of me to put my children before myself. She always told me that I was a much stronger person than she could ever be. She smiled when she spoke of her grandchildren, and that smile grew wider when she explained to people that I was her hero. (Still makes me blush just to write it. If anything, she was my hero my entire life!) She always talked about how one day, she just knew that we would all be together somewhere laughing and enjoying each other. Mom talked of traditions that she wanted to pass along to them in the hopes that she could include them in her life, her family history ... their family history.

One such item was my Sweet 16 Corsage. It was the corsage that my mom received on her 16th birthday and my grandmother had it preserved so that she could give it to me when I turned 16. It was a very sentimental thing, and my mother had mentioned on several occasions that she could not wait to give that corsage to Bella when she was old enough. No matter how things were going in our life in adoption, she always reassured me that it would happen ... I would know them and be a part of their life. She did not know her life would end far sooner than she had wanted, or predicted.

While in the hospital and clearly near the end of her life, we spent a quite morning talking about things. Mom was resting between subjects when suddenly she opened her eyes and said ... "You have to promise me that you will give Bella the corsage. That corsage was pinned on me by my mother, and I pinned it on you, and it should be pinned on her when she turns 16. You have to make sure that your corsage goes to her ... it should be hers. I want her to have it, do you know how important that is to me?" I knew. "Yes, I will make sure she gets it." "I am serious Kelsey, you have to promise me!" She had some fight in her, she was making her point. It was almost a last testament for her, because after that she never mentioned another family member for the rest of the time I was with her.

Years later, when the time came around for Bella's 15th birthday I started to think about that corsage. I still had many boxes from my mother's in my garage so I spent the better part of six months sorting through old memories, photo albums and mementos of my mothers life. I found some wonderful things I had forgotten about, but no corsage. I thought back. I had seen it the year before, I found it in a box and brought it into the house because I knew I would be looking for it soon. But where did I put it? Started cleaning and putting things away in the house. Another 2 and a half months went by and although my house was clean and very organized, I still could not find the corsage. Her 16th was getting close and I was starting to panic about that wish, those last words murmured from my mothers lips: "I am serious Kelsey, you have to promise me!" I wrote a desperate message to Bella's mom asking her if I had sent the corsage to her in advance. She responded no and asked what it was. After explaining the story to her, the significance to my mother, the significance to me ... well she was devastated that I could not find it. 6 weeks to go before the birthday and I was loosing my mind.

I was sleeping one night a month or so later and I had a dream. I was decorating for Halloween in the front yard and thinking about the corsage. As I spread the spider webs, I heard a familiar voice say ... "You want some help doing that?" It was my mother, walking across the front yard. She smiled. It was good to see her. "That would be great", I responded. We finished up the decorating and admired the work we had done. She told me she had to go, she had things to do but thanked me for letting her help with the Halloween festivities. It was always one of her favorite holidays is what she said, but I knew that. Then just before she left she said, "What you are looking for ... you might want to check the kitchen again." And she smiled, then walked down the street.

When I woke up, I had no recollection of the dream. I had overslept and was in a panic to get lunch made, dress the boys and get them off to school on time. It was a hectic morning to say the least, and I really did not think about my dream. Long about noon, I had a moment to sit quietly and it was then that I remembered seeing her again, spending time with her again, hearing her voice again.

Her voice. I remembered what she said about finding what I was looking for in the kitchen. I wasted no time, I looked everywhere for that blue box. I looked in every single cabinet. I looked in every nook and cranny of that kitchen and never once saw a blue box. Nice, I am completely crazy is what I was thinking to myself. I was also crushed that I was not going to find the corsage to give to my daughter on her 16th birthday. My heart sank and I leaned on the counter next to the fridge, sulking in my failure to keep my promise to my own mother. I lifted my head in disgust and was just about to tell myself off when I noticed something in the corner, tucked away. It was a candy holder that I bought at Hallmark (my mother's Mecca!) years back that looked like a witch's spell book, you know like an old thick book on a book shelf...really creepy and deep ... and it held Halloween candy and talked to you when you opened it. I picked it up, laid it down on the counter and took a deep breath.

I opened the cover to hear "Happy Halloween!" in a creepy witch voice followed with cackling and there, laying inside alone, was the blue box that I had so desperately been searching for. I was shaking. I reached in and picked it up, knowing what it was that I had found. I opened it and with one look inside a flood of memories came over me...tears began to flow and I cried uncontrollably. I was a little freaked out. I mean, I certainly do not remember putting that corsage in that box. I really don't think I did. It was not Halloween time when I was looking for it, yet there it was in the kitchen just like she said it would be. I felt like I was in a huge CLUE game
... in the kitchen, with the corsage in the Witches book.
I was really freaked out when I realized that I had exactly two days to send it to Bella! I Fed Exed it off with a card and letter explaining the meaning behind the vintage Sweet 16 Corsage. It made it there, and her mom pinned it on her on her 16th birthday. She thought it was pretty cool that she now had something that was presented three generations ago in her family. I knew she would like it, and deep down I knew that my mother helped me find that thing~!

The moral of the story? Open adoption allows a birth family to pass on traditions to their flesh and blood. To me, that is pretty awesome and inspiring. Sure adoption can have its faults, sure it can be something that many do not understand. But for those that are involved with it, a story like this can inspire some to be more open to their birth families. Just as in my case, it only enhances the child's life to know where, and who they come from. Another moral...always pay attention to those little signs that others are around to help you out in matter HOW freaky they are!
Photo courtesy of


TTABaby said...

Oh I love this story!! We are a week away from our first visit with Baby Girls Birthfamily. We are going to be able to be there for Baby Girls birthsisters 20th birthday party! I'm looking forward to learning about their family traditions for birthdays. I think this story could not have come at a more perfect time.

Thank you as always. - M

Becky researching birth mothers said...

Thanks for sharing your lovely story! I really enjoyed reading it and looking at your blog.

Vernell said...

This is cool!