Heart to Heart

A  woman came into my office today clutching a copy of Two Hearts.

“I haven’t started to read it yet,” she told me. “I just finished the acknowledgments and the author’s note.”

We chatted about the books she’s been reading, and finishing, before she planned to start reading my book. We laughed together and shared stories about our reading likes and dislikes.

Then she said “I’m on the other side” in reference to my book–she’s a birth mom.

Immediately my office was transformed into a sacred place–a place where truth was spoken freely and two facets of the adoption triangle touched one other. This dear woman expressed some apprehension about reading my book; she’s experienced what it’s like to be blamed, misunderstood, and maligned. She needed to have some reassurance before opening herself up to the reading experience that she wasn’t walking into something unexpected.

I reassured her that the book is not an angry book, that I believe in the blessing of adoption, and that there is a good ending to my story. I was honest with her too. Is there anger in the book? Sure. I told her other birth mothers have read the book and I suggested that some parts might be hard for her to read. I gave her my blessing to put it aside for a time, or forever, if she feels she needs to.

She shared her story with me and my heart broke as she talked about what she went through many years ago. I learned more about adoption from the birth mom’s perspective. I grew as a human being as I listened thoughtfully, respectfully and with genuine compassion to her story.

I’ve talked with birth mothers, adoptive mother, and adoptees, and found ways to empathize with each experience. I’ve sat in a room of raw emotion as adoptees and birth parents, and adoptive parents talk openly about their pain, and I’ve witnessed a social worker in that same room brought to tears at the realization of how the ways of the past hurt those it was intended to protect. I choose to believe that change will come as a result of this open communication and respectful exchange of experiences.

I was accused on another site recently of selling “wound Pablum” and “coddling adoptive parents” instead of being “on the streets trying to actually change things” in the adoption community. If you’ve read my book you know there is a lot of anything-but-Pablum in there–there is brutal honesty, anger, tears, and grief–and yes, eventually, there is gratitude.

I am humbled by the conversation I had with this woman today; I am honored she chose to share her story with me; and I feel renewed in my goal of respectfully, thoughtfully, and openly sharing my story as my way of working for change and healing.

Pablum? You can call it that if you want.

I call it doing my part the way that works for me. Heart to heart.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm here early most mornings with one of my photos and a few words about life and those thin places where faith intersects.
11 comments
  1. and here I thought you WERE doing things to create change – we don’t all have to carry signs and march in the streets to affect change or to affect others — our words can do this, too.

    I’m looking forward to reading your book, as I do your other words — I’m adopted, as you know, by my stepmom, and I know who my birthmom is, though I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve been able to see her face-to-face since she gave me up. I’m curious to read of your experience.

    1. Yes, Kat. And words can be more powerful than anyone realizes too.

  2. Oh my, Linda,
    What a poignant example of how we are all transformative power of memoir! Your memoir became a bridge for this woman to open up and share what she probably has held inside for years- therefore validating your efforts and mission. The hope and honesty that you show in your memoir is anything but “wound pablum.” These naysayers are coming from their own needs and what they say has more to do with them than you. Good for you for standing tall and being loyal to your mission.Two Hearts is a great title but in reality it is many hearts that you have touched. Beautiful!
    Kathy

    1. Thank you, Kathy. Your support is much appreciated!

  3. Linda,
    I wonder…what does this accuser think would work better than heart to heart connection? That’s how we all heal… You have offered a wonderful outlet for carefully and gently opening the subject for both sides to discuss a painful topic.

    There are probably no easy answers for people on either ‘side’, but healing can come from open, honest conversation.

    Hats off to you, a beautiful heart!

    1. Adoption is complicated, Denise. You’re right, heart-to-heart is how we heal though.

  4. Hi Linda,
    I think your words, “I grew as a human being as I listened thoughtfully, respectfully and with genuine compassion to her story,” are the key to being present with any human, no matter what the circumstances. When this happens, a true healing takes place for the speaker and the listener.
    Beautiful!
    Gayle Madden

    1. Being present for someone and witnessing their story is so important, isn’t it? It’s part of living the “sweet life”!

  5. Dear Linda, this writing about our lives is a act of faith and hope and love. We put the small boat we’ve devised in the stream of life and let it float where and how it will, knowing that it will touch banks and rapids we’ve never seen.

    To move from this metaphor to what you are experiencing, I’d like to add that everyone who picks up your book will respond out of his or her own experiences. Because of that, many will not understand what you have attempted to say. They may not even recognize the wholeness of your own experience, the height and depth and length and breadth of it.

    Our job, of course, as writers, is simply to write and then to let go. When others misunderstand, that is worrisome and sometimes the way they express their misunderstanding can be hurtful. But we chose to write the words, to publish, to trust the Universe.

    And so I hope for you that those who need to hear your words will be touched by them and perhaps, just perhaps, those who balk at your words are those who will store them deep in their hearts and find them at some future time when the words will help the most. Peace.

    1. “Our job, of course, as writers, is simply to write and then to let go.” You’re right, Dee. We have to, as you so eloquently say, trust that those who are meant to receive the message will do so.

  6. Linda, what a touching example of “being on the other side.” We all experience the “other side” of some situation at some point in our lives, and this birth mother was obviously a gift to you as you were to her. To the folks that called your book “pablum,” so what? Anyone who knows you and who knows what you’re about, also knows that you are about creating change for adoptees and the adoptive parents as well as the birth parents. You go, girl!

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