Editor’s Note: This is the fifth and final installment of birthmother Pat Goehe’s
accounting of a reunion with the daughter she’d never met. Like layers of an onion, each addition to her story revealed more of what’s “underneath.” Pat’s constructive attitude and refusal to let “might have been” hold her back: these are an inspiration to me, an adoptee whose reunion with my birthmother was actually not fulfilling. I have learned a great deal from “journeying” with Pat, and it is our hope that her story is an inspiration to those still searching – lost sons and daughter, birthmothers and fathers, adoptive parents or parents-to-be.
In Pat’s words…
Some of the most difficult things I had to, and actually at times, continue to have to deal with about this whole experience relate to my decision not to see my baby after she was born.
First, the Doctor involved told me I had the choice of whether to see the baby after she was born or not. He discussed that seeing the baby for the time I was in the hospital might make it more difficult to give her up. I thought about this decision for some time. Knowing myself as I did, I knew if I saw her, I probably couldn’t give her up. So I elected not to see her. When she found me many years later, one of the questions she asked me was, “Where was I from the time you gave birth to when my adoptive parents brought me home?”
It seemed that this was very important to her. But, what could I tell her? Only what I had been told. The baby would be with someone for a short period of time and then given to the adoptive couple. But where or who that was, I did not know.
Also, the fact that I never saw her, haunted me later because of the “lack of bonding” for her. I remember at one point a nurse started to bring her into my room and I immediately said, “No, I’m not to see her.”
In retrospect, I don’t know if I would have changed that. I do believe I would have had the difficulty giving her up. But seeing Linda as she asked that, I could tell how horrible that must have been. No bonding, abandonment issues, and on and on.
The social worker came to my hospital room before I was dismissed and before she got the baby to deliver her to a home until adoption. While I have always been an emotional person, I was not prepared for the surge of emotion which came over me. I cried steadily with the social worker there for what must have been close to an hour.
I moved on with my life and was content that I had done the right thing, and that my daughter was going to a family who couldn’t have children. I was giving them a wonderful gift. It was not until I had the experience in my workshop that I thought anything else.
The only advice I might give to birth mothers would be that we make the best decision we can at the time. Then we live with it and deal with whatever happens in the future. One can’t go back and “redo” that decision. I was fortunate to have, so to speak, a “happy ending”. From Linda’s work with ALMA (Adoption Liberty Movement Association), I know that isn’t always the case. She told me some very sad stories. On one occasion when I was in LA she was to meet with a birth mother and asked if I’d be willing to go along as well. I agreed. This Mom’s story was the daughter found her. She had sent a letter and a picture and wanted to meet her birth Mom. This Mom in telling us her story said she didn’t want to meet her. She talked of having “married up” and now had two adult sons and life was good. She showed us the picture. Her daughter was covered with tattoos. The Mother said, “I just can’t tell my sons about her. I rose from the trailer trash I was, and I can’t see my current family being destroyed.” Later I asked Linda what had happened. This Mom and daughter corresponded for several years and eventually the Mom flew out to be reunited.
My Mother had a saying “Just give it time.” That was her advice and I find myself using it often. I also find myself shedding a tear each time I hear, “Somewhere out