That Miracle in Own Forgiveness.
Our hearts melted into one another’s in instant recognition during that first hug. Two bodies reunited after 36 years…two spirits that had never been separated. The gap of time was instantly filled during any particular one moment of reunion. The bond of mother and daughter cannot be broken. Only shame, guilt, and remorse fed the fire of apparent separation. Only forgiveness would dowse the flames and complete the circle of love.
Thirty-six years before, I had given birth to my first daughter and then released her for adoption. Suffering from a heart broken by your choice to honor my parents’ wishes that I not marry my first love, I emerged from as an “unwed mother” with emotional scars so excellent that my only defense was to bury them deeply, get my life like nothing had happened, and go on. So successful was my denial of the gaping hole in my own heart that, as the years passed, I really could not really remember my child’s birth date.
How was it possible then, some 30 years, four children and two marriages later, that I really could find myself in a class of spiritual counseling students that had six other women who shared the exact same closely held past that Used to do? We were all birth mothers. Our secret became our magnet, and we began to meet and vision a ministry at our church that may prayerfully support all individuals who are affected by adoption: adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents. It absolutely was a noble idea, and one that would require that people do our personal healing work in order to be available to others.
And so we began the excruciating journey of dredging up our pain. We individually faced our personal demons — guilt, shame, blame, anger and self-recrimination — at whatever pace we felt capable of moving, and collectively we prayed for one another and all those whose pain we share. We created the Adoption Triad Ministry at The Agape Center of Truth in Los Angeles and invited people touched by adoption in the future and tell their stories and interact prayer each month. We opened the way to allow each person in the triad — adoptee, adoptive parent and birth parent — to dialog with another, seeking an knowledge of the unique emotional issues that each carries. And some of us searched to get our child and/or parent. My decision to try to look for my daughter exposed my own Pandora’s box.
It absolutely was for the reason that atmosphere of prayer and spiritual guidance that I felt safe enough to handle my own walls of defense and denial and try to create them down a course in miracles podcast. The method was agonizing. Not just was I delving into the shame and pain I had caused my parents and siblings by learning to be a pregnant teenager, I was allowing to surface the hatred I held for myself for not having fought for what I wanted…my mate and my baby. What I was inviting into conscious awareness – and ultimately acceptance – were the shame and guilt of experiencing sinned, based on the church of my childhood as well as the mores of society in 1961. I was admitting that I was full of rage at my parents for interrupting my fantasy to have the perfect family, and at my boyfriend for not having fought harder to truly save me out of this torturous sentence of a banished offender. Throughout the look for my daughter, I was required on numerous occasions to recall those difficult circumstances surrounding her birth, and it was all I really could do to help keep from passing out. As I unleashed one tidal wave after another of suppressed feelings, I was constantly on the verge of emotional overwhelm. What kept me going was my deep, deep desire to get my daughter, to tell her how much I loved her, to fairly share with her that she was conceived in love, and to complete the circle that began with her birth.
And so I searched…and I prayed…and I begun to forgive. As I progressed through the classes in spirituality that were preparing me to be a spiritual counselor and prayer practitioner, I came to appreciate that without forgiveness I would be unable to free myself from the maze of negative self-judgment which I had permitted to tarnish the beauty of the birth of my daughter. I understood that if I were to welcome her with true open arms now, I had to obtain the good in my own being her birth mother. I knew that the healing miracle I so dearly sought was possible only if I released my guilt, shame and blame concerning the circumstances surrounding her getting into this world.
“Seventy times seven.” Jesus admonishes us that this is how often we have to forgive in order to be free — quite simply, as often as it takes. I was well on my way to completing my forgiveness of another actors in my own drama — my parents, my first love, my church, my society. Now it was time to forgive myself. I had held myself on the cross of self-blame and shame for so long that I wasn’t sure how to let myself off.
I began by feeling great compassion for the teenager I was who had been so in love and so passionate about life, and who only wanted to see and express that love in any way she knew how. I listened to that particular 19-year-old’s pain of profound loss and of feeling that she did not belong. That pain have been so severe that she had essentially shut herself faraway from trusting her own beautiful heart. I listened to her, consoled her, told her how much I loved her and that I wouldn’t let that sort of pain happen to her again. The I AM of me (my God Self) forgave her for just about any belief she held about being a “bad girl,” a “sinner,” an “undesirable good-for-nothing,” and a “reason behind pain to others.”
The months — and yes, years — that I’ve spent forgiving the layers of self-recrimination and loathing I felt for myself have truly unburdened me. Freeing myself from the shackles of that seemingly unforgivable and unforgiving past has truly given me a fresh life. The attitude I now hold toward myself, my children, my first love and my pregnancy is just gratitude, gratitude for among the greatest growth experiences of my life. By arriving at terms with my past, the gift of compassion was ignited in me — a present I could and do readily give all those I teach and counsel. The miracle experienced from my commitment to forgiveness is the profound love I give my first-born daughter, a love activated as soon as we hugged that’s continued to enrich my life ever since.