November 26, 2014

Full Circle Thanksgiving

Family Tree
© Photographer: Andyb1126 | Agency:

(originally written on Thanksgiving 2009)

Te Deum
by Charles Reznikoff

Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day's work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.

Reunion has brought so many conflicting emotions over the years, especially surrounding the holidays. Truly like trying to untangle a ball of yarn without knowing beginning or end.

For many years after reunion I would reluctantly turn down invitations each holiday, feeling strong obligation to my adoptive family. Feeling extreme guilt for even trying to see my family of birth "around" the holiday ~ so torn. Wondering and longing through feelings of self-doubt and paralyzing covetousness of those in my first families who never lost their place. Not knowing who I was or where I belonged.

This flowed over even into celebrations around my son. Birthday parties, which are supposed to be joyous times of fellowship and fun became so stressful that I would avoid planning them. So sad. Who would I invite? I wanted everyone there but couldn't stand the thought of trying to merge these segregated and conflicting families in the same place. Holidays brought up buried pain of separation, ownership, and confusion.

Finally walking through the pain of grief unlocked my ability to feel and embrace the love that my family(ies) were trying to show. The love I so wanted to be able to feel and embrace and return.

I want to thank God for bringing me through those crashing emotions of reunion. To a more quiet acceptance and embrace of who I am and who my family is. Amazing.

by Bruce Weigl

I didn't know I was grateful
for such late-autumn bent-up cornfields
yellow in the after-harvest sun before the
cold plow turns it all overinto never.
I didn't know I would enter this music
that translates the world back into dirt fields
that have always called to me as if I were a thing
come from the dirt, like a tuber,
or like a needful boy.
End lonely days, I believe.
End the exiled and unraveling strangeness.

Yesterday was really nice. My Mom was in my home again for the first time since April, when she fell and was hospitalized and then moved to a senior center. My son was so excited he climbed all over her, even in her wheelchair. Her personality is amazingly positive and such an inspiration to me, for her to be able to weather so many months of health issues and change. My first father dropped by right when we were putting Thanksgiving lunch on the table, and I so enjoyed seeing him and sharing this special day and lunch ~ just being together means so much.

He had not seen my Mom for many years (the families spent more time "together" during the infant stage of reunion ~ I feel like the beginning of "my" reunion was more for them than for me ~ so shy & emotionally numb).

I didn't beat myself up emotionally this time for letting my Mom see the heart-felt emotion of hugs and kisses between my first father and us. Maybe he is opening up more because I am.

Then, last night I got to be an adult (not just "Mommy") for a few hours at Thanksgiving dinner hosted by my first mother's brother and sister (my aunt and uncle). We sipped white wine and feasted on turkey and dressing (yet again) all evening, enjoying each others company, getting caught up on our lives and telling stories of growing up in Tulsa (separated, yet within blocks of each other our whole lives). Uncle Ron lives on Reservoir Hill just north of downtown ~ with a spectacular view of the city lights, the moon and the stars, and a crackling outdoor fireplace.

I am so blessed to be reunited with my entire family of birth. The rich diversity and YEARS of getting to know them and the strong love that has grown. I have a beautiful heritage of faith in my family, by both adoption and birth. And also great diversity. Jewish on my father's side, and my first mother's side includes a beloved uncle by marriage who grew up in the Middle East. And yet another from Guatemala!

My young cousins, Sean & Hanna, who I was privileged to watch grow up and grew close to these past twenty years have a beautiful dual-heritage, which they are learning to embrace and be proud of. We talked about the importance of family and how we can learn so much from the strong family traditions and customs of other cultures ~ how they stay close throughout their lifetimes and help each other through hard times. How they value the little things in life, without the distraction of the "rat race" we all seem to battle in America.

I am finally more complete in my identity and families now, and am so thankful. Still growing so much and overcoming. But thankful.

by William Blake

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise


Lori said...

You have come a long way. Your growth and understanding has been a huge help to the growth of your parents - all four of them.

I get nothing on holidays from my daughter, even after 8 years. No birthdays, especially no greetings on mine or hers.

Sometimes, I truly think she only let me in because I would not vanish into the concrete for her. Especially during the holidays.

I am glad for you. Worry less about what they want or think and more about what is a healthy behavior and what is not. Sounds like the Parents got it. The in-laws will get it too.

*Peach* said...

Thank you, Lori. I hope you had a good Thanksgiving and I hope you begin to have more contact with your daughter. I think both parties in a reunion are reluctant and thinking we are being rejected, when the other party is feeling the same way. Crazy.
Even just the little acts of reaching out mean so much and don't go unnoticed ~ I hope your daughter responds to yours.
Hugs, Peach

Lori said...

Peach, yes, she responds. Now her responses are positive and she knows that I am what my nickname says I am - either boadica (sp) (warrior/queen/mother) or Granite Woman. I can't be worn down easily or with silliness. She knows she is loved and that is really what counts.

This eveninng, after a friend hurt me with their unkind words, she was angry and wanted to know who it was so she could tell them off. I told her it was not worth it. Either people are kind, or they are not. Kind accepts that we are flawed and therefore make mistakes. The rest, well, that is their problem.

Things are getting better.

Thank you.

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Lori, acceptance and love can conquer anything. Be blessed this new year

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I love this post. You can hear the completeness in each word.

Michele Morin said...

This is my first time to find your blog, so I'm not aware of all the background, but what a heartwarming tale of redemption and family love!