I was 24 when I made contact with my birth mother. The adoption laws had been changed, making it easier to be connected. We wrote for a while, then sent cassette tapes. Yes, this some time ago. Eighteen months later I travelled across Australia to meet her.
I took the bus from Perth. I was 25 when I hopped on a bus to travel across the Nullabor then fly across Bass Strait. Everyone on the bus knew of my journey although I don’t actually remember telling anyone. I was too scared to leave the airport in case I missed my flight so spend 8 hours in the terminal. I showered, had my hair done, ate and read. I wasn’t a worldly person. I was an anxious one.
When I exited the plane, everyone wished me well, again. I did’t remember telling anyone. I walked into the airport and looked about. You know how in stories there is an instant knowing, of eyes meeting across a room? Nope, we walked right passed each other. She was much smaller than I anticipated. I had much bigger hair that she thought possible (it was the ‘80s). But we did meet. Connected? That took time.
There are no words to describe the broken relationship between a mother and a child. In many respects I was still a child then. We have no concepts nor language to re-establish that relationship. I was naive and inexperienced in worldly complications. It was quite a complicated situation. I returned with my mother to her house to meet my siblings.
Siblings. Goodness. If there are no words or concepts for a meeting between lost parent and child then there are even less for siblings who did not grow up together. There were also grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins. I met them all together over one weekend. All of them. They wanted to know where my husband and children were. After all I was 25 and they had all had children given up for adoption, married the girls they got pregnant or married and had “legitimate” children by 25. Sadly, I had none. No husband, no children, anxious, scared and confused, I wasn’t much of a prize.
I was able to fly back after my visit and had one more week of leave before returning to work. I was shell shocked. I felt like I had been blown apart and the pieces of me no longer fit together comfortably. The raw edges of my psyche bumped against everything and bled. I sobbed for the week, trying desperately to sort myself out.
It took another three years for me to understand that I listened to my mother with ears of rejection. Only our determination to be a part of each other’s lives kept us bumping along a sometimes very rocky path. Misunderstandings were us. My relationships with her children were fumbling. I eventually gave up. We get along very well when we meet. When I altered the way in which I listened to my mother, and she to me, things began to change.
We have known each other now for 27 years. We are very alike in temperament and I love her very much. My mother is someone to admire. Once she referred to my doggedness, my determination. I roared laughing and asked her where she thought I got it from?
Then there was the time I met my biological father….but that’s the end of this story.
(c) CLHHarper June 2014