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.