As one of my favorite writers once said, when we rummage through our souls, we often find things we should have kept hidden. In my rummaging lately, nothing is more stirring than the first feeling of mini me’s hiccups in the womb. It was my first true biological connection to anyone, and it made me feel alive. Like I would have something that belonged to me. Like I finally mattered to something. Like the past was far, far behind. So, becoming a woman and creating this life..it was a lifeline. One I want again someday.
The smile on my face here is no mistake, I felt this miracle was an overdue payment from a higher power for early loss, fear, rejection and pain. I was taken from my mother at age 5, found abused and left in a basement, having been starved, unable to talk and obviously very isolated. I was placed in foster care and my sense of belonging to anything was gone. At first, I cried often for a sibling who was removed somewhere else. While I grew to develop relationships where I could, there was always something lurking and missing.
I was adopted and both of my adoptive parents died shortly after….It seemed nothing was remotely permanent or safe. My own mother showed for strangely awkward supervised visits twice and then vanished. I still thought of her secretly though and especially every year on my birthday. There was always something painfully mystical to that day for me as a child. I never liked celebrating it, though now I certainly do not mind!
We actually shared the same name and birthday. I wondered if she ever remembered me in her womb, as I do now with mini me so often. It was a very painful sense of rejection year after year on that day, I always thought some absolution would come over her. I would imagine her pregnant with me. Though I had only shadowy images her face, which now is a mirror of myself. I pictured her..rounded and smiling (would she be smiling)? I never saw a baby photo of myself, never heard the labor stories I tell my daughter about..in fact the word “mother” to me brought up a sense of fear and deep loss.
I could not live without the sense that I was to blame for whatever happened when I was young. And that I was not worthy of the family I saw friends enjoy or complaining about even. I would’ve given anything to complain about an overprotective mother! It is this “disconnect,” that can send foster children spiraling down a path that can lead to failure. It is a basic human need ( and Maslow would agree) that we all feel a sense of belonging to something. For foster children, especially those who were abused by family..there is nothing left to belong to..and all you did have betrayed you and rejected you .
And so this photo of me brings a lot out of the back of my mind. I feel blessed that even though I once felt discarded, I now as an adult have a greater sense of purpose. Although I know my motherhood will change..and mini me will become more independent..it has been the one thing in my life that filled in the answers. It helped me stop looking back and instead.. it recently finally taught me that I deserve to live a full l life. Not one crouching behind security but one where I am needed and respected and valued. I deserve that much.
This sense of peace and love of self is possible for every single foster child. Maybe, one story at a time someone can bridge that disconnect and a child somewhere will recall a similar hurdle. And one more can be saved.
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