I haven’t written about my birth family discoveries lately. Partly because the Christmas season is a bit busy in my profession. Also because there hasn’t been much news.
I’m totally fine with this being a slow process. I’m still in touch with my family members on my birth father’s side, and I was able to meet some “new” cousins in Arizona over Christmas break. I don’t really know what will develop in terms of relationships, so I’m glad to give it whatever time it takes to do it well. It’s hard to become family in a short period of time.
But last week I received a letter. From my birth mother.
After I met my birth father’s family in the fall, I wrote her a note to thank her for letting me know his name and letting her know I had met his daughter and family and it had gone well. I also posed a few questions for her, in case she ever wanted to answer them.
I didn’t expect a reply. She’d made it pretty clear she isn’t looking for a relationship or further contact. Which is what it is. I am certainly not going to just show up at her home and invade her privacy.
She answered the questions I had posed, or most of them at least. She even took some pictures out of her photo albums and sent them to me. Such a gift. I’m so grateful for that.
I scanned the photos and sent the originals back to her.
Not sure I will hear from her again. Grateful I’ve heard from her at all.
I haven’t had a “pen pal” since I was a kid. Nowadays you can just call or email anyone, anywhere in the world. This relationship with my birth mother, however, reminds me of my pen pal days. I had a pen pal from South Korea when I was in junior high. I would write something and send it off. Then I’d wait and wait for the reply.
It’s been years since the mail has been something I’ve anticipated the way I used to.
I also don’t want to put much hope into anticipating further mail from her. She has never promised, or even suggested, hope for a relationship.
This day, I’m seeing blessings in small things. I’m grateful to have answers to the questions I’d sent her, even if they raised a million other questions I likely won’t get answered. I’m grateful for the photographs.
And I am going to write more letters. Handwriting letters takes time. And shows care.
The world needs more hopeful anticipation at the mailbox than we’ve had in recent years.
5 thoughts on “Reluctant Pen Pal”
When I went away (60 miles) to college in 1962, I lived for the anticipation of receiving the letter(s) from my mother.
i am happy for you that you had a reply, just a reply
Marci: so many thoughts go through my mind after reading your blog post. Your writing is so respectful of others (your birth mother) feelings and opinions. Yet you do still show longing to hear more. You carefully follow up without necessary an expectation of success. Wow. Thank you for filling my head with great feelings, expectations, and hope. That is what your writing does for me.
I am going to write a letter to my parents even though they have email.
No one can understand the complex and powerful emotions that surround reunion. There are figures lurking in the background: For example, your birthfather. How did his attitude play into relinquishment? Or maybe it wasn’t the birthfather, maybe it was the family of your birthmother. Maybe the figures lurking in the background are social workers? Doctors? Clergy? Or maybe it was the mores and expectations of the times. Also, that was a time when women had very few rights and opportunities. Day care? How many people had even heard of day care?! That was something furnished by grandparents, and only if they were willing and able. Nowadays, single mothers are accepted in more circles — not back then, when your mom relinquished you. I’m just trying to point out that we now live in times so very different from decades ago. Most of all, I wish to say that your first mother’s experience has probably affected her soul in a profound way, necessitating defense mechanisms that she may not be aware of.
Reunion is such an earthshaking experience, that no one can adequately describe it. People who have not experienced reunion may view the experience as a curiosity without even trying to understand the depth of emotion involved. It can be frustrating, particularly when curiosity seems to be the only motive presented by “interested” others. Such shallow curiosity may be the reason why some people choose to say little about their reunion experience
Yes. I’d been aware of some of those differences in her experience and mine before I ever knew her name. When I did meet her, she shared with me the story of the pregnancy and my birth. I’m grateful to know it.