About 9 years ago Joy sent me a big envelope of  snapshots photocopied onto notebook paper.  The top one was of her at 5 years old after singing in a patriotic school program.  She looked like me.  She looked like her father.  She looked like Tomtom.  I was jealous and angry and ashamed.  And I believed that was not how I was supposed to feel.  I thought I was supposed to feel tender and gratified to finally see what my child looked like when she was age 5.

There were lots more pictures with short notes about who else was in the picture and when it was taken.  Her friends.  Her adoptive family.  Her husband dressed like a retro hippie as they were discharged from the hospital with teeny tiny Tomtom.   I was angry while believing I didn’t have any right to be angry.  Pictures of Joy holding Tomtom looked like me when I had a kid on my hip.  Pictures of Tomtom in preschool looked like the kids I raised in preschool.  Pictures of Tomtom at his adoptive parents pool.

I felt left out.

and ashamed.

and I hid the pictures.  I could hardly bear to look at them.  I felt like screaming and crying which was totally inappropriate.  They had been given in a spirit of generosity and outreach.  I treasured them and the connection they represented.  I was so afraid of breaking that connection and the connection I had with my raised kids.

Wondering what did I do wrong to end up without my daughter, to have these horrid feelings, to not be able to be the one taking care of her when she was 5?  How can I avoid doing it again?

So, I came across the packet of pictures again yesterday in a whole new frame.  I saw them as a gift and a treasure.  And I remembered the feelings of anger and jealousy.  But I feel ok.  I’m not ashamed of them.  I really felt them.  They’re waning.  I can deal with them.  In fact I’m grateful to have the pictures now.  I think I’ll put them in page protectors so I can share them without being afraid of soiling them.

They are a  beautiful record of my daughter and her family, my family.  Mine.

Ok a little bit selfish there, uh huh.  Yep I am.


4 responses to “Flashback

  1. Not selfish–acknowledging the connection you have.

    And you are a good writer yourself, you know.

  2. It is weird reading this post, I almost dissociate.

    I remember that picture, I was very happy, very proud at that moment, I had been a part of a grand pagent in my 5 year old eyes. I had a gold star and red braided yarn in tied in my hair as was the style in the 70’s, no ribbons for us, and crazy clothes.

    We sang, “this land is our land” which I never really thought of as patriotic, but perhaps I told you that, I self-contradict at times.

    I thought the Golden Highway was the Golden Gate Bridge and that we sang from the redwood forrest to the New York ‘highland’

    I can’t relate to feeling the complicated feelings you felt. There are no complicated feelings for me with Tomtom. Well actually there are, but on that level.

    I mean I have guilt in regard to him, and pretty well deserved guilt but it is different. Despite all my failings, I was never deprived of my child.

    I wonder if you didn’t direct some of your anger toward me. It is odd though, hearing about your anger almost makes it easier on me to understand.

    Adoption is hard hard hard.

    Still we get up and try again, every day.

  3. I called it patriotic attempting anonymity. It’s the kind of conservative that I am that hears This Land Is Your Land as patriotic.

  4. You deserve compassion and love for those feelings you describe.

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