a child love more than one mother?
by elizabeth trezise
started like this:
This is Kathy.
My name is Elizabeth and Im calling from North Carolina. Im
doing some research on my family history. Is this Kathy Walker?
it is. Ill be glad to help you if I can.
I was born on January 10, 1970 in Elmira, New York. I think Im
on the other end of the phone was deafening. What felt like a million
years was probably only 30 seconds.
quietly this time and very gently asked Did you give birth to
a baby girl?
And after another very long pause and a big sigh, I heard her say Ive
hoped and prayed that this day would come.
of relief and joy flooded us both and we celebrated for twenty minutes
by firing questions at each other. Who are you? Where
do you live? What do you do for a living? Who is your
family? And of course Kathys question of How in the
world did you find me? We laughed, we cried, we giggled, we marveled
at how we sound so much like each other.
five years ago in April. Twenty-nine years of separation had come to
a close and a new journey to wholeness was about to begin.
tell people the story of my search and reunion with my biological family,
invariably one of the first questions that people ask me is How
do your parents feel about this?, as though I did something that
could intentionally hurt or damage my relationship with my parents.
The question is not intended to be hurtful or judgmental, yet in our
society, theres an undeniable subtle belief that the adoptive
parents are good and that birth parents are bad.
What kind of person would give up their child? And what amazing people
who adopt a child!
fortunate that my Mom has been incredibly supportive of my reunion with
Kathy and the rest of my birth family. (My Dad died ten years ago but
I feel his spiritual support of my reunion). In fact, the process of
search and reunion has brought us closer. Mom always expected me to
search for my birth family. She recalls: You were a teenager when
you first brought up the subject. I think I told you Id be disappointed
if you lacked the curiosity to at least search. Dad and I told you wed
do anything we could to help when you decided to search.
first found Kathy, everything was very surreal. Nothing else mattered.
Time stood still for me. I was filled with fear and joy. I felt legitimate
and whole for the first time in my life. I relied heavily on my Mom
for support during those first weeks and months of reunion.
: I was excited, nervous, thankful and relieved that my secret
was finally out. Like many birthmothers, she had shared the news
of my birth and relinquishment with only a select few, so a big burden
was released when the truth was revealed. I told her that Id had
a good life and understood that she made the decision to relinquish
me out of love and concern for my best interests. I think it helped
her to know that I wasnt angry at her and I felt validated that
she wanted to meet me.
to meet at a neutral place so that we both felt safe. Kathy
says I wondered how I would know it was you? But I didnt
have to worry it was me walking through that door and
memories of how your father looked also all rolled into one.
I really shouldnt have worried. There was no doubt as to who you
The morning of the reunion, I was sick as a dog. My whole body tingled
with excitement and nervousness. I barely remember the car ride there.
We spent four hours alone together. It was as though our DNA was talking
to each other, catching up on twenty-nine
years of genetic bonding. In my 15-page journal entry recounting the
experience, I wrote: I continue to replay in my head the first
moment that I saw Kathy. She was sitting on a couch on the front veranda
and as I walked through the door, she looked straight up at me. We both
gasped for air but didnt say anything as we embraced. To say that
hugging her felt so good and so right would be a grave understatement.
Its impossible to understand what that touch two people
who are related by blood feels like when its been missing
from your whole life. There is nothing else in life that you can compare
this experience with it is a unique, precious event that only
other adoptees who are reunited with their birthmothers will comprehend.
day, I went to meet Kathys children my two brothers and
sister. My sister, Deena, recalls: When we first met you, I couldnt
believe how much you resembled my mom. It was pretty awkward the first
day. I remember talking to Brad and Chaz and asking them what they were
going to say to you. I know that there was a lot that I wanted to say,
but knew it probably wouldnt come out. I remember how quiet
Deena was during our first few visits together. I worried that perhaps
she didnt like me or was threatened by me. I had unintentionally
usurped her unique place as the only girl in the family and worried
about how that felt to her.
with my adoptive Mom that weekend who ironically lives only an hour
away from Kathy. She remembers: I was not there for your reunion
with Kathy, but you came home on cloud nine, unable to eat much and
could talk of nothing else. You really wanted your half siblings to
accept you. I was so pleased that everything went so smoothly for you.
reunions are complex, emotionally charged and take a lot of time and
energy. When distance separates, the times together are perhaps even
more precious. For me, this enabled my relationships to build slowly
Mom, a time that particularly stands out is when I took my two mothers
out to lunch. When first Kathy and I met, we thanked each other
for the gift of a child given and the gift of a child received. Love
for and from a child can be shared so it has worked well that each of
us has time alone with our daughter when she comes to Florida.
A few years ago, I came across a quote that stated If a mother
can love more than one child, why cant a child love more than
one mother?" Im fortunate that my Mom and Kathy fully embrace
that concept and understand that theres enough love to go around
for all of us!
are my siblings! My sister, Deena, came to visit me last fall in Asheville.
Says Deena: I learned so much more about you by seeing where and
how you live, where you hang out, and your interests and friends. It
was fun getting to relate in a relaxed environment, instead of a scheduled
get together like most of our visits are.
to see my home office filled with inspirational collages and photographs
and she got to see my varied bookshelf with books on feng shui, spirituality,
alternative medicine and adoption. She got to meet my friends
we even played pool at a local bar. We drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway
and I delighted in her oohs and aaahs at our gorgeous mountain scenery,
a real treat for a Floridian! It was a wonderful time for sharing and
connecting for both of us
our first time together without the
rest of the family.
for the future
into it, I realize that weve come a long way. Yet, theres
still so much to do! Having two separate families makes me feel stretched
and pulled to spend quality time with each of them. I want to share
the deeper parts of myself with Kathy and I want to know the deeper
parts of her; I want to have time to be with my brothers and sisters
and go to the beach or shopping. My dream is to integrate my birth family
and adoptive family into one big family. I want to use our story of
successful reunion to educate others about the power and healing of
Elizabeth Trezise is a life and business coach
and has a passion for issues related to adoption. She was a presenter
at the 2004 American Adoption Congress conference in Kansas City americanadoptioncongress.org.She
was reunited with her birthmother, birthfather and 11 brothers and sisters
in 1999 and has had a very positive, loving, supportive relationship
with the entire family.