Note from Elaine: Guest blogger Pat Goehe is a welcome contributor to The Goodbye Baby website. Meeting her daughter for the first time after 38 years was a life-changing experience. It has been 15 months since she first wrote about their reunion (http://bit.ly/1M2dGlW). Pat is now moving forward with personal goals, specifically writing projects. Her now-reunited daughter Linda is a mother. However, adoption reunions are not without complications. So much of a life spent in separation can produce feelings of guilt. As Pat tells it…
When I made the decision early in my pregnancy to put the baby up for
adoption, it was made with the best possible reasons at the time. So why then do I experience something that I can only label as guilt?
After several years had passed since my daughter, Linda, found me, I was once again writing. This time it was a new film script which I was really excited about. My daughter was then working as an agent for film composers. Never would I have asked her to help me get an agent for the script, but she suggested it. I remember feeling such overwhelming joy, and yet something bothered me. As it turned out, because of other problems, the script did not get completed before she gave up that profession and moved to Texas . My mixed joy and guilt left.
Years later I was doing my first documentary and in discussing it with her, she offered to do the packaging along with information that I needed for the cover and insert. She had prefaced her offer with the fact that I always said not to give me presents. This was finally something she could do for me, and she really wanted to help me on the project. I felt pretty okay about this.
There have been times when I don’t hear from her for many months. My mind immediately goes to, “Why should she stay in touch? After all, didn’t I give her up?” At different times over the years I made that comment to her which was not something she liked. It took me many, many years to realize that the daughter I actually raised often did not stay in touch either. Both are busy with professions,
family; it is my own crazy head that kept feeling the guilt.
Recently I have been back to the “I need help” phase. Never in my life did I expect to write a children’s picture book, but I have. And now, I need help in the marketing. This is again a skill area my daughter has. At one point I broke down and called her to ask about one issue. She gave me good information even though it was a very busy time professionally in her life. Currently, I really could use her expertise and would love nothing more than to have her take over the marketing for this project. But, I won’t ask. Why? Because this book is all about my granddaughter from the other daughter’s family. When I heard that granddaughter was complaining how Grandma had taken her two half brothers on many trips but she never got to go on any, I decided (because she’s a teenager these days and certainly wouldn’t enjoy a trip with me) what greater gift of love could I give her than to write a book based on true happenings she and I shared when she was a toddler. The reality is that I spent much time with that family over the years but not much time with the other. So, how on earth could I ask L. to help me on this book?
It’s at times like this that I’ve learned to take a step or two back and rethink things. Let’s face it. Asking for help has always been difficult for me. I’m the one who gives it! I spent more time with the other family because it was needed then. And that was the time when Linda was trying to desperately to get pregnant. She did ask me later to come during a spring break and help out with childcare; I did. I can develop skills I’ve had in the past; they’re a bit rusty now! Perhaps I just need to ditch the idea that I’m too old to do all of this. I need to remember that we can’t control outcome. I have no idea when the book is published what I may need to deal with. I suspect no one will tell me if they were hurt because of something I wrote in the book or perhaps left out or even that it wasn’t about them. But then I’m equally certain Linda won’t feel that way. I continue to treasure our relationship.
Pat Goehe is retired from a teaching career and devotes her time to fulltime writing. Her children’s book Annemarie and Boomer Wait for Grandma is now in production. She is the mother of two daughters and one son, and grandmother of four.