Photograph of Santa Fe Cathedral


Marah's Story

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It was a warm afternoon in June of 1988, at which time I was a young 14 year old girl. That was the day that I graduated from Junior High School. When I put on my polka-dotted dress earlier that day, I had no idea that my life would never be the same again.

Receiving our diplomas and the complete graduation ceremony took a few hours. Afterwards I was greeted with the congratulations and happy faces of my parents, younger brother and grandfather. My best friend at the time and I were almost inseparable. After receiving our diplomas, she and I ventured away from the family to chat. After a few moments, as we were immersed in our own teenage world, when suddenly we were approached by an older Caucason woman. I was a little startled by this stranger who was trying to speak to us. She began by saying something to the effect, "Hi, are you Marah, my name is ......, and I attend a birth mother's support group with your birth mother .....". At that very moment, I felt every hair on my body stand up. I had a strange, uncomfortable feeling in my stomach, one of nervousness and the other a feeling of distrust of this stranger. This woman informed me that my birth mother was waiting around the corner, and was eager to meet me. I told her I needed to speak with my parents. My self-defense, emotional survival mode went into effect, my emotional "wall" went up, feelings went numb, and I went through the next hour or so in a daze.

I can't imagine the dumb founded look I must have had on my face, but I can sure remember my family's reaction to the words my numb lips were uttering. My mom's eyes welled up with tears. My father had a look of disbelief and my brother seemed confused and didn't know what to feel. And my grandpa, well, he just seemed plain pissed. I, on the other hand, not knowing what to feel, continued to have a dumb founded look on my face.

A decision had been made, we were all to walk the short block, "around the corner" to meet MY BIRTH MOTHER.

Upon turning the corner, I was immediately struck with the view of a woman with snow white hair. From afar, it appeared as if she could have been an elderly woman, but at a closer look, her face was that of a woman in her 40's. She wore glasses and a dress, with a short spiky sort of hair-do.

The next 15 minutes or so, were very awkward, as could be imagined. None of us knew what we were supposed to be feeling: anger? jealousy? excitement? nervousness? But we were all remained cordial. After the brief encounter, we all went our separate ways, departing with only photos in our cameras, and leaving with a slew of emotions to contend with.

What were we supposed to do now? Remain in contact? Act like our meeting never happened? Because of my young age, being a volatile teenager, one of my parent's fears, if we were to remain in contact, was that I could rebel, wanting to run back to my birth mother. I feared nothing. I did not know what I was feeling. And still, remained "dumb founded" over the whole experience.

In complete unison with my parents, we decided to have our attorney draw up an agreement basically stating that my birth mother should not contact me while I was under 18, and that the decision remained up to me, if and when I wanted to contact her.

A few months later, as a Freshman sitting in math class, I received a letter from my birth father. The letter apologized for my birth mother's action and then proceeded to give me his current address and telephone number, just in case I wanted to contact him in the future. (Throughout my past 14 years, he had lived a little over a half and hour from where I was raised). Later that year, my birth mother once again tried to contact me so that she could send me a birthday card. She sent the card. I'm not sure why she felt the need to send the card, I guess she wanted to keep pushing for contact with me.

As I grew older throughout high school, I held some feelings of hostility towards her. Not because she gave me up. (I had the greatest parents any child could have asked for). But because she had known the exact location where I was from the time when she gave me up. I felt intruded upon, spyed on. I despised the fact that someone who I did not know, knew me. She knew all about me: my hobbies, sports, grades, etc. I felt like I had no control over this part of my life, and I had no choice of whether or not I wanted to let her know me. It was like being forced into a relationship with someone you don't know, like an arranged marriage (of sorts). Don't get me wrong, I always knew I would meet my birth mother someday. I just wanted it to be on my terms, when I was ready. I have a very strong personality, and do not like being forced to do anything I do not want to do.

(FYI: since I was a little girl, my birth mother and mom had kept a "file" on me at the County agency. In it contained letters and photos that they could exchange and have access to. This exchange of information, of my "paper life", continued up until Junior High).

Fast forward to the day of my high school graduation and "grad night";, at Disneyland. One of my classmates handed me a note, scribbled on the front of our graduation program. It said, "congratualations....., I'm so proud of you, Love.....". Again, the feelings of hostility arose. What the hell was she doing there?! Spying on me? Later, my brother even informed me that he and my dad had seen her in the stadium. They never told my mom that she was there, and to this day I'm not sure if she knows.

The following year I entered college. I was 300 miles away from my home town, from my family, and I was ready to meet the two people who gave me life. To my recollection, I wrote letters to both my birth mother and birth father. Almost immediately, my birth mother responded, and came to my college campus to meet me. Of course the meeting was very awkward, especially with all those lingering feelings from our first meeting. We tried our best to get to know each other over the next few days. But it remained awkward. We both realized it was going to take a hell of a lot of time to have any sort of relationship.

My birth father and I met later that year, during the summer when I was home from college between my Freshman and Sophomore year. I met him and his wife in my home town and we had a very nice lunch together. It wasn't as awkward with him. Perhaps because his wife eased the tension with her upbeat personality, or maybe because I held no ill feelings towards him, or because he did not go through the emotional and physical feelings which my birth mother went through. Whatever the reason, I have always been more at ease around him and his family, than around my birth mother.

Four years later, June of 1996, and it was time for me to graduate from the University. Over those few years, I had been able to form a nice relationship with both my birth mother and birth father. I had met all of my birth mother's family and also met my birth father's family. I was accepted by both families with open arms, and was able to learn about my heritage through stories, old photographs, and memoirs. The day of my college graduation is probably one of those amazing times that rarely happens amongst birth and adoptive families. Present that day were: my parents, my birth parents, my brother, my birth aunts and uncle, my grandparents, and many other relatives.

As I write this, I am a 29 year old young woman, who was asked by one of my birth mother's friends to write "my story". I feel lucky to be where I am today. I had a wonderful family who raised me, and now I have an enormous extended family who also care for me. As I continue through this journey of what they call "life", I will remain content with where my relationship with my parents and birth parents is, and where it is going.

Although this is a shortened version of my story, I thought it would be easier both to write and to read. I hope this has helped to provide an example of how adoptions can have a happy ending, (even if the process takes a few years).



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