A Better Life Part 3

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But where to start? A letter, phone calls, tears, “what coloured eyes have you got?", “how tall are you?”, “What shape is your nose?” and all the other questions that longed to be asked. We arranged to meet several months later and meanwhile, wrote to each other frequently, sending photos and patching together a background as a starting point. I asked about her parents and found that she had a happy life with a loving Mum and Dad and we agreed how lucky she had been.

Then we decided it was time to meet. The day finally arrived and her plane landed and disgorged a range of travellers and at last, just as I was starting to think she had changed her mind, my instantly recognisable child walked through the big glass doors with a nervous smile on her face. My heart raced.

Our encounter was like a tango, where first the dancers engage closely, intimately, expectantly, then hold each other at arm’s length for an overall appraisal, knowing there’s an element of safety in that distance. There follows a desperate embrace as the moves are repeated again and again, more urgently with every passing moment. Ultimately, the dance draws the dancers back together again, where they belong, safe in a close and loving embrace. Elation!

She was a cookie-cutter image of me – the same body shape, same nose, same skin, same hair colour, though she had her father’s smile, which she was delighted to know. We hungrily drank each other in, every detail, every feature, every blemish, like a black hole voraciously sucking in cosmic material, to the last tiny speck.

Naturally, over the next couple of days, we raced to know all about each other, but I found to my amazement that delving into her past was very difficult – not so much for her, but for me. For so many years I’d not been a part of Caren Lee’s life, and I resented the loss: all the memories we could have shared, all the ways we could have learnt from each other, all the bonding as mother and daughter we could have enjoyed – that primal experience. The past belonged to her adoptive parents, and I had no part in it, even though she was keen to share it with me. Though painful, I accepted that fact and decided to just enjoy the future, if there was to be one, together with my daughter. We could build our own memories to share in our new future together.

And we have. Over the past thirty-five years we have formed a strong bond and carved out a relationship that grows in many ways - a relationship that has forgiven and looks to the many positives in our lives.

It has been said that adoption is something that never goes away and it’s true. There are always lingering thoughts and the sadness that the greatest grief of all is for what could have been.

 

Reunion has given me a new life – one without guilt and sorrow and the secret I endured for over fifty years. The sadness diminishes but never disappears.