This Gift Team trip is, as I’ve said, not a vacation; it is joyful, but it is emotionally draining. There have been so many tears this week. I started out crying before I’d even left home! I read through the schedule and, in anticipation, I had tears running down my cheeks. I wasn’t off-base; there has been a lot of tissue used this week. One woman said that she has a special pocket in her purse to stuff the used tissue so that she can empty it into the garbage every evening.
Yesterday, we visited an unwed mothers’ shelter and, after a small party and a lot of laughter, there was time to sit quietly as a group in order to let the young women ask us, adoptees, parents of birth children and adoptive parents, questions that are tugging at their hearts. Many of the young women were crying; they are making a monumental decision: to try to parent their child or to relinquish it for adoption. I think their tears were tears of sadness and grief at the enormity of this decision. As we all sat quietly on the floor waiting to see if any of the young women would have the courage to speak, many of them rubbed their bellies. It was a clear sign that, even before birth, they love their babies and are trying to take care of them. Finally one young woman spoke up, then another. The theme of the questions was “will my baby be loved”. As we parents and adoptees tried to answer their questions, we also shed tears – tears of joy when we told of our love, tears of gratitude when we tried to explain how much we honor our own or our children’s birthmothers, tears of sadness as we saw how hard this process is for these young women. So many tears, so many types of tears; sometimes the same tears come from so many sources.
When we finally left the shelter, I asked our team leader, with hope, if this process is therapeutic for the young women and he assured me that it is; that it helps them in part of the process they must go through to make the decisions they must make. Then, I realized that it was also therapeutic for me as well. I would so love to be able to reassure my children’s birthmothers that their children are, in fact, loved; that they are growing up to be wonderful, caring and loved individuals. However, I know that I will probably never have the opportunity to say these things to any of them directly, but I could say it to these women; I could attempt to reassure them. My hope is that there were other adoptive parents sharing their own stories of love when our children’s birthmothers were making this decision. My hope is that they had an opportunity to shed tears like this; that they had the chance to gain some reassurance.