I’ve been thinking about my birth mother lately. Maybe because thinking is all I really can do. She doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me, and even if she did, she’s not in very good health. Maybe I’ve been thinking about her because her 91st birthday is around the corner.
My birth mother never wanted to meet me. I’ve known that for a long time. I tried to find her 25 or more years ago through an intermediary and she refused to meet me. When I got my birth certificate 5 years ago this summer, I wasn’t expecting one of those reunions you see on TV shows where everyone is excited and thankful for the reunion. But I still persisted in trying to get her to meet me.
And I’m glad I did. I was able to ask her questions I’d always wanted to ask (even if some of the answers were kinda painful). I was able to thank her for giving me life and for giving me up. I was able to see what my hair will look like in 40 years.
I realize now, a few years later, that one of the reasons I went to meet a woman who didn’t want to meet me is that I thought I could ‘win her over’. I’ve got lots of other friends and loved ones. Other birth family people have welcomed me to the family. I can be pretty charming. I’m a good conversationalist. People like me.
A few things have occurred to me lately about all this.
First, while I am, no doubt, charming and all that, it isn’t why I have friends and family. The rest of the birth family has welcomed me because they have discovered I am family.
And my friends, colleagues, and congregation welcome me because human beings seek connection and community. It’s who we are. And I’m thankful to be surrounded by so many people who love me as I am–charms, failings, and all the rest.
We don’t have community because we audition for a role and get the part. We have community because that’s who human beings are.
Yes, relationships develop and deepen, or don’t, based on effort, compatibility, willingness to be vulnerable, etc. But seeking connection is the human condition.
Second, the role for which I was auditioning for in my mother’s life is not one that is on her cast list. It didn’t matter how good I was, or how delightful a conversationalist I was, I am not going to win a part that isn’t in the script. She is the Director of her life’s play, and there is not a role in it for “daughter she gave up for adoption”.
I’m sad about that. I wish it were different.
Alongside my sadness, as it’s traveling companion, sits gratitude.
I continue to find new birth family members (now mainly through DNA), and I keep getting welcomed into their lives. I’m abundantly grateful for each and every welcome. One of my new cousins recently gave me a few more family pictures, including one where Alden looks so much like my birth father that I gasped when I saw it.
How about you? Are there roles you are auditioning for in any relationships? Or are you able to receive the relationships that occur more organically? However it is for you, I hope you know that you are worthy of connection and relationship. Already. Right now. As you are. And if you’re needing to try out for the role, it likely isn’t the relationship you’re hoping it will be.