We are so fortunate to have guest blogger Lisa Greggo back with her poignant words about her experience with adoption and what she is grateful for. Lisa Greggo’s work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Let the Bucket Down, and other places. She is currently at work on a book-length memoir about her experience with foster care, adoption, and search and reunion. She can be reached at email@example.com
by Lisa Greggo
As we recognize November as National Adoption Month, I am thankful to the mothers and fathers who have shaped me, both through nurture and through nature. Through birth, foster care, and adoption, each has contributed, knowingly and unknowingly, to the choices I have made, the paths I have taken, and the woman and mother I have become.
To my birthmother, I thank you for loving me enough to set me on a path to a successful life. We were reunited briefly when I was in my early twenties and you shared with me the details of your tumultuous childhood. You suffered the devastating loss of your own mother at an early age, and then were subjected to regular abuse at the hands of your father. By the time you gave birth to me, you had been in foster care for a number of years and living in what was known then as a home for unwed mothers. As an adult, you had your demons and your vices; but you recognized and owned them. It is apparent that I got my tenacity and resilience from you. Although we didn’t maintain our relationship, I am grateful for those few months because I was able to make sense of, and peace with, the difficult decision you made as a teenager to place me for adoption.
To my birth father, I thank you for trying to do what you thought was right by my birth mother and me, for offering to marry her and make a family with us. You gave me a connection to an ethnic background that is known for strong familial ties that run far and deep, and even at eighteen years old, I understand that it must have been difficult for you to let us go.
To my adopted mother, I thank you for taking the risk of welcoming a 5-day old baby into your home on the last minute request of a social worker. You had one adopted daughter already and a house full of foster kids; perhaps you thought, ‘“what’s one more?’” It would take three years until my adoption became final—what a long and worrisome time that must have been for you. But you risked loving me nonetheless. I would be remiss if I said that things were easy while I was growing up, because they were not. Not only were you and I so very different in every way, you struggled with your own painful past, one that refused to be silenced. Depression and fear followed you like a shadow, and they affected me, too. Months before you passed away, you told me about what happened to you when you were a young woman, and suddenly I saw you in a different light. I know how much it pained you to share that story and I remain grateful for your trust. My only regret is that I wished I knew sooner, because maybe I could have helped.
To my adopted father, so very quiet and non-demonstrative, you couldn’t hide the fact that you loved me. While we weren’t outwardly affectionate as a family, those moments when you made a big deal out of my childhood artwork by hanging it on your wall, or the times that you picked me up at school so that I wouldn’t have to carry my saxophone those few blocks home, they were true. Our relationship took a backseat to your work schedule and to the demands that caring for my mother required of you. But those few years after mom died, when you would come stay at my house for “vacation,”, go to my kids’ little league games or just sit and chat while I bustled around the house, remain my fondest memories of you.
For this November, I express my personal gratitude for foster care and adoption and I wish much love, understanding, and honesty to all the mothers and fathers who make those families possible.