Last night at our church’s Session meeting (our church board), someone shared this quote from Roger Bannister during her devotion to start the meeting:
“Doctors and scientists said breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead”.
Shortly after Bannister did the impossible, another runner beat his time, and hundreds of runners did too over the next years. Now elite high school track stars can do what was seen as impossible 60 years ago.
I realized as she was talking about Bannister that I had just done the adopted child version of the 4 minute mile. I met my birth mother this past weekend.
Children of closed adoptions, especially in states with closed birth records, grow up knowing they will never know who gave birth to them, or who they look like, or what their genealogical history is, or why they have those personality traits that may be so different than those of their adopted families.
That knowledge is impossible. Those answers are impossible.
Two and a half years ago, when Washington State opened their previously closed birth records, I received my birth certificate. And at every step along the journey, as impossible things became possible, it still seemed as if actually meeting my birth mother would never happen, namely because she refused to meet me. It felt like a record that could never be broken
I don’t know what changed, exactly, in each of us, that allowed the meeting to finally happen. I’m not interested in ascribing motives to her behavior (figuring out my own motives is tricky enough, thanks) and I’m okay living with the mystery of it all for now.
The impossible took a long time to be overcome. I’m thankful for the great support system I have who helped me train for this race. From my family (both adopted and birth) to my friends and readers, I’ve had lots of people helping me along the way.
If you’re facing a similar impossibility, I pray you have access to great counseling like I’ve received. By the time I met my birth mother, I was as ready and prepared to meet her as I could be. Good therapeutic counseling is probably beneficial to anyone, but it has been essential for me.
Now I get to learn what it will be like to live on the other side of the impossible. In truth, I’m still at the “collapsing at the finish line” stage of the experience. I’m exhausted, and emotionally I feel like I ran 3 marathons.
I don’t know what, if anything, will happen next in the journey with my birth mother. After the impossible, though, I know not to rule anything out.
What are the things in your life that seem impossible? How are you getting the support you need while you prepare for life after the impossible?
Thanks for being with me as I’ve run this race. Looking forward to what’s next.