LETTER TO A ROSE
I have truly missed you and missed out on you. Yet, I gave you what I could not give myself, though I desperately wanted it for so long. A stable home, a since of normalcy. I would have gladly come with you. Adopt me too, I thought. However, when you start being a parent, even if only a birth parent, you realize it is not about you anymore.
After your birth, you somehow contracted a staph infection. As a result, you had to undergo a spinal tap procedure. Then they had to give you medication for the infection, but your veins were too small. They had to use the veins that ran along the top of your scalp. It hurt me physically to see that IV protruding out of your pretty little head. I refused to go forward with the adoption until you made a full recovery. It took three weeks for you to be released from the hospital.
Since you were well, I had to move forward with the adoption process. I witnessed so much happiness and relief in your adoptive parents. The time had finally come, their dream come true was simultaneously my nightmare. I saw the love in their eyes and I needed to vomit, like I had stage fright, except it was a reality check unlike anything I had ever experienced. Why did it have to hurt so, the pain was excruciating. It hurt even more, because I had no choice. If only you could truly see my sacrifice.
I have no recollection from the day I placed you with your parents until the day I saw you again. Although the memories are absent, I know I shed an ocean of tears. My soul was wet with them. I knew you were okay, but to me, I lost my beautiful baby.
The state of Texas requires six months to finalize an adoption. That is the last time I saw your beautiful face. I was terrified! I know babies are clingy to their mothers. I pictured you holding her so tight, screaming, not allowing me to hold you. I knew I could not bear rejection from you. I hurt so much every day. Severe postpartum depression caused me to hurt physically, all the time.
I did not attend the court proceedings; my visit was scheduled for after the finalization. My parental rights would be terminated forever, your adoption would become final, then I would be allowed to see you.
I walked into the room. My eyes searched frantically. I could smell you immediately, but my gaze landed on your parents first. They radiated with happiness. I had to push down the resentment, which seemed to have come from nowhere. Within seconds, our eyes connected. As my line of sight widened, I was overcome with joy. Your hands were opening and closing with outstretched arms. You were reaching for me! My baby, my beautiful girl, she knows me! Oh how you had grown. Your skin was darker. Your cheeks and limbs were chubby and fat. I wanted to kiss you all over!
Then the fear overcame me. I couldn’t allow myself this happiness. I escaped back deep within myself. My eyes glazed over. I watched from afar. I could only view you from a safe place in my heart. It was only a visit. My heart cautioned: Don’t get too close. Don’t fall in love with her again. When the visit was over I had to say goodbye again, and it hurt, all over again. I had something to take with me though, a precious memory. I replayed it in my mind over and over. Your hands shooting out in my direction.
That’s how I made it all these years. One memory and the belief that perhaps when the time came to see you again, that all my worries would be in vain. That perhaps you would reach out to me, and I would not be rejected. That somehow, innately, that you would remember me.
I loved you then, I love you still. My single greatest regret has been having an appearance of indifference towards you. I could have written to you every year, everyday even, but I did not. So perhaps it appears that I was indifferent to you. That I didn’t care. Or that I didn’t think about it. I tell you now with all honesty, I thought about it without ceasing. Nevertheless, my failure to write is my badge of shame that I have carried with me. It has been a constant source of guilt, laden with feelings of inadequacy.
I tried to write you. My letters always fell short to what my heart needed to say. I would start writing, then ball it up. While throwing it away, I would tell myself I would have the words another day. Your parents wrote me, wanting an update, but where I was in my life wasn’t good enough to justify my actions. It wasn’t good enough to warrant the loss of you. I was caught in a trap of wanting to succeed, to make you proud, and guilt from any success at your expense. When I was 17 I wrote a poem called She’s Not My Stepping Stone. It talks about the words people said to me, which disturbed my spirit. Insinuations that my decision to place you for adoption is what saved my future. Now I could go to college. Now I could be somebody. Do something with my life. Every time I would hear that I would be silently offended. My decision to give you up for adoption had nothing to do with my future, or personal gain. There were undoubtedly reasons and motives, but most of which were not my own.
All these years I could only attempt to draft an explanation. Then the explanation would not justify the loss of you. My letters never made it past my paper and pen. Eventually, I came to realize that I needed an explanation. How could I tell someone something which I did not know? I needed to know why. There were many things that I had to become mature, and experienced in, in order to understand. I was thirteen when you were conceived, there was so much that escaped my understanding.
So Lacey, I ask that you open your heart and mind as I share my life with you, thus far. As much as I would like to shield you from the reality of my dysfunctional upbringing and subsequent spiral out of control, I have to tell you the truth about my life. I need to share with you how I got my explanation. I don’t want you to think less of me because of my willingness to put my deepest darkest secrets on display. My explanation that I received is also the one I am giving to you.
As you read about my experiences, remember, everything I have been through has made me into the person I am today. Know and believe that giving you to your parents was my gift to you. After all, I choose them for you. A Single Brighter Light, they were everything I wanted for myself, and I thank God for them always.