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Nicole, my brother Kevin, and Jeanne in the background

I haven’t spoken to Jeanne in 13 years. Surprised? I am too, but I know my reasons. I just didn’t know Jeanne’s reasons.

I have been reading about adoptions extensively since I’ve started this blog, and  I’ve discovered a few articles and studies that would explain why and how a birth mother feels. Whether she knows it or not. I don’t believe Jeanne realizes the implications of what happened to her almost 50 years ago.

It is interesting this information that I am reading, yet most of us haven’t even heard about. There are millions of adoptions, and nobody talks about what really happens to a woman (a girl, really) who has relinquished a child and what it does to them. Young women left to deal with the aftermath. How it carries on throughout their lives and the effect it has on their future relationships and their families. I’d like to understand it better and I’d like to hear other’s experiences.

My beautiful daughter Nicole was born in 1994. Jeanne and her husband came out for the christening. Nicole wore my christening gown, and it seemed everything had come full-circle. Except, Jeanne was very – uh – disassociated for lack of a better word. The one thing that stands out in my mind most is her lack of wanting to hold the baby, as you would expect a grandmother to want to do. Especially since she lived in Michigan and we live in Pennsylvania. Nicole’s godmother had a party at her house after the christening, and she had a ferret. Jeanne walked around the entire time holding that ferret and making a fuss about it. Really?

As time went on, Jeanne would call me – often. And she didn’t want to talk baby talk. She wanted to talk about Jeanne. Incessantly. I couldn’t get off the phone with her. Jeanne seemed to be undergoing a transformation of sorts. She had decided that to become highly educated was her answer. So that’s what she did. And that’s what she wanted to talk about.  For  hours.  It didn’t matter if the baby was screaming in my arms.  She seemed not to notice.  I would practically have to hang up on her to just get off the phone.   And Jeanne didn’t approve that I didn’t have the same drive as she did at the time. I was raising a baby and she just didn’t seem to “get it”.

I had hoped that even though we were clearly very different people, that she would be happy that we were reunited, and accept me as I was. That we could enjoy a friendship. But it didn’t work out that way.

So, I stopped answering the phone.

We haven’t talked since.

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We came back from Michigan, and now we would discover what our “settling in” period would be like. There is a “honeymoon” phase that you read about with adoption reunions, and I think Jeanne’s trip to Scranton and our trip to Michigan were a part of that phase. There’s so much excitement in the beginning, and uncertainty, and emotions – it’s all sort of a whirlwind.

We lived far away, and this was before the internet really took off. So, we talked on the phone. We exchanged gifts for holidays, birthdays, etc.

I came back from Michigan armed with (finally) what my family medical history was. I wanted to become pregnant, and I knew now that I (and my then-husband) would have to get genetic testing. I won’t say why – maybe I will in future postings, (I’d have to find out if it is okay) – but not now.

Luckily, everything turned out okay, and I was able to go ahead and try to become pregnant. It was a long road – so it seemed at the time, and after 10 months of trying, I was thrilled to find out I was finally pregnant.

I don’t recall a lot of phone conversations with Jeanne at this time. I was, of course wrapped up in my life, and being pregnant.

I think it was then that I noticed that Jeanne was a little – “off”? For lack of a better word. She seemed very self-absorbed in this phase of our relationship, and that seemingly self-absorption would only increase as time went on. Things were very superficial, and I didn’t understand why. I was learning a bit more of her own family dynamics, and I remember at the time, being grateful for being in the family that I was in.

My birth mother didn’t seem “connected” – with me, or my pregnancy. This seemed surprising to me. And, as time went on and my delivery date drew near, this surprise would only deepen.


It was time to meet Charlie – my birth father.  I had no clue what to expect.

We were to meet at a restaurant – my (then) husband, myself, Charlie and his wife. 

It was – awkward. 

I didn’t really know what to expect, so I expected nothing.  My birth mother, I could sympathize with – my birth father – well, was just that.  Someone who I shared genes with.  I knew nothing of him, except that he was tall.  And that he had disappointed Jeanne. 

I couldn’t exactly fault him for that.  Unexpected pregnancies happen.  It’s the women (or teenager) left to deal with the consequences.  Which Jean did to the best of her ability.  They were both young.  Stuff happens.

He was nice, and he was pleasant – he seemed to feel awkward as well (as I believe the picture shows!)  We made small-talk.  I apparently had a half-sister and a half-brother who knew nothing about me.  Charlie wanted to keep it that way.  He told me about them – where they were at in their lives, and that was about it. 

He also shared medical information with me – and that was important.  I realized that I would need to get genetic testing done if I wanted to have a baby myself one day (which I did).  What he told me that day stayed with me, and played in the back of my mind for years.

So, we spent about an hour together.  We took a few uncomfortable looking pictures, and we said our goodbyes.

I wouldn’t speak to Charlie again for 18 years.

Charlie & Me - Hmm - Awkward?!


Jeanne and I first met in Scranton, as I have written earlier.  Our first meeting went quite well.  My parents were sweet and welcoming to her.  My mom always said she felt thankful towards Jeanne, and she gave her a special gift.  We all got together several times, Jeanne met my family – my brother, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Jeanne and I exchanged gifts.  She also brought me a photo album of her past and her family.  She brought me a pin that was her mother’s.  Things went as well as anyone could  have hoped for. 

I then travelled to Michigan to meet Jeanne’s family.  Her husband, son and daughter as well as her brother – my Uncle Leon. 

Michigan was great – as was meeting everyone.  Jeanne loved cats and had two beauties :).  My brother and sister, Tracy and Todd and I hit it off.  Everyone was so nice!   

Here are a few photos from our trip –

Meeting Tracy and Todd for the first time 🙂

Tracy, Jeanne, Me, Ray, Uncle Leon, Todd and Jack

Jeanne and Uncle Leon had also arranged for me to meet my birth father, Charlie during this trip.  We would meet the next day at a local restaurant.  Time to get nervous again!  I had no idea who, or what to expect.  As a woman, you can sort of relate better to what your birth mother went through.  I had no clue whatsoever how Charlie was feeling about all of this, but he HAD agreed to meet me – so that was a good thing – right?
 
 
 
 
 

At Lake Scranton - The day we drove to St. Joseph's


Mom, me and Jeanne - Jeanne's first visit


re·linquish·ment n.

    Synonyms: relinquish, yield, resign, abandon, surrender, cede, waive, renounce
    These verbs mean letting something go or giving something up. Relinquish, the least specific, may connote regret: can’t relinquish the idea.
    Yield implies giving way, as to pressure, often in the hope that such action will be temporary: had to yield ground.
    Resign suggests formal relinquishing, or acquiescence arising from hopelessness. Abandon and surrender both imply no expectation of recovering what is given up; surrender also implies the operation of compulsion or force: abandoned all hope for a resolution.

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Two weeks after giving birth, Jeanne had no choice but to surrender all hope, and it was decided that I would be relinquished to St. Joseph’s.

She went back to Michigan with her mother, and life went on. I don’t know, nor can I imagine her heartache.

I was in St. Joseph’s from October, until December 22nd. Which is where my story began. I was adopted by my wonderful parents. Merry Christmas Mary Christine! They had applied for adoption in August, and surprisingly, they got their baby four months later.

I have pictures of the day I was adopted – red-haired baby bundled up in my grandmother’s laundry basket, where we were visiting. I will look for them, and post them here. I will also post pictures that pertain to individual parts of this story:)

Jeanne and I parted ways in early October of that year, and we wouldn’t meet again until 31 years later….

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