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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

One Woman's Rights

Since Sri Lanka is one of the countries where meeting the biological mother of the child one will adopt is a pretty likely event, we were encouraged to prepare beforehand for this possibility. Of course, this is a wise thing to do as it is perhaps one of the most poignant meetings a person can experience. I try to imagine it from the biological mother's perspective but I can't, except that if I were giving William up, there is so much I would want, no beyond "want", that I would just be desperate to know about the people in whose hands I was placing my child, my heart and world.

I think I would tuck the answers away in my heart and memory like secrets, so that regardless of what my life consisted of, I would have that hope and knowledge that he was loved and cherished.

Yet we were the ones encouraged to prepare. To make a list of questions for her. As though to interrogate her was our right. As though she somehow, along with everything else she was giving us, owed us information about herself as well. As if we had a right to the private pieces of experience and pain and joy that made up her life.

To be honest, at first I didn't question that we did have this right simply because it didn't occur to me to question it. It was only later, when we were told that we would be meeting the biological mother the next day that I began to genuinely consider what we should ask her. Lying on the hotel bed, I thought and thought and with every question that popped in to my inquisitive brain, my immediate response was " but that's none of my business". None of my business may be true, but what about William's business? Doesn't he have a right to whatever information I may be able to glean from his biological mother's answers?

Here is where some people may disagree with me, (or maybe I flatter myself to assume that disagreement comes so late in the post and you've really been fiercely disagreeing with me all along?:), but I don't believe it is William's right either. Not now at least. Most of us have a natural curiosity about those who came before us ingrained in us and if William does, then I will encourage that one hundred percent. I hope he does. I hope so much that he decides someday to meet his beautiful biological mother, a woman of quiet strength and grace. Then she can share her story with him and it can become his as well and he can choose to ask questions and she can answer them if she chooses, but for those involved, the seeking and imparting of intensely personal information is a matter of choice and not a presupposed right. It should be treated as such.

After a lot of thought, Per and I could only think of two questions that we had a right to ask. First, if she had anything she wanted to know about us, anything that might help put her mind at ease, that she could remember and draw strength from in the future, even just anything she was curious about. And second, if there was any message she would like us to pass on to William when we is older.

All the other details that make up a life...all the questions and answers...everything, both huge and small that love encompasses...every sacrifice made...there's time for everything. And while lives may touch, intersect, join, meet, or separate, every person's journey in life is always their own.

I see William, Per, William's biological mother and I as a circle. Our lives and hearts and hopes are now connected for eternity.


Zion said...

This is such a beautiful thought Colleen! I admire your selflessness in this all too tempting situation - I with my curiosity would probably - no certainly - is there a stronger word I can use? I can say with absolute certainty that if I were in the situation to meet a person who could quench my thirst about the unknown in such a way I would have bombarded her with questions - not because I would think it my right - but because of such high level of curiosity that it is insufferable to live with the knowledge of what I could have known!!! - But you are a true hero not to inquire about those things

By the way - give the little man a hug from me ;)

Meg said...

Love this entry!! It is soooo true!! I also can ask about Darielle's biological mother and we have chosen not to meddle in her personal life. We don't even know why Darielle was made a permanent ward. All we know is what we have seen from Darielle's reactions and her biological mothers actions. I think if Darielle wants to know more when she grows up than she is welcome to seek and ask. Our families will be forever linked because of one very precious little girl!

Anonymous said...

Read your blog about questions for the bio-mom....So thoughtful! Wow.
(Aunt Lorraine)

Janet said...

Colleen I absolutely agree with you. What right do we have to probe into a person's life as if we have the authority to do it. I firmly believe that if a person wants to tell you something, they will... no matter what you do actually! LOL

I think that if I was in your position I would have asked one more question... how can I pray for you? Here is a woman who is giving part of herself to me, quite literally, and I would want to know how I could, in however small way, repay that.

Are you not allowed to stay in touch with the mother? I know that if I was the mother I would love to receive a letter every once in a while with a picture and some basic news... just to put my mind to rest... is this not allowed?

Colleen said...

Hi Janet! You must be back from your safari now...can't wait to hear everything!:) No because of the sort of adoption this is we are not allowed to have any direct contact with William's mother. (We didn't choose this ourselves, it is simply the way it's handled.) It isn't an open adoption where as you say, the mother receives letters, pictures, and visits too. I don't know if all international adoptions are like this but we did have to agree we would have no contact with her. For the time being. Of course once William is old enough, it is up to him. And one of the wonderful things she did tell us was that if he would like, someday in the future, she would very much like to see him again.
So for now, I do just think about her often, pray for her and as William grows I will do my best to make knowledge of her a part of his life as well.
Thanks for your comment, my friend.:)