This will be lengthy and personal. There is twenty eight years of force behind what I’m about to write and can’t possibly fit it all in. Be kind. Cover me with your grace, thank you.
Her birth came 3 months after I turned seventeen – July 3, 1986. The story and the pain before, during and after changed me. Forever. The boy I was dating stuck around but made it clear that he wasn’t sure how ready he was for fatherhood, ‘how many jobs would he need to hold just to provide’ kind of thing. I don’t remember who mentioned it first since my mom wasn’t keen on my news, which came at four months along because I was scared and in denial. But adoption was the obvious choice. I was an angry and rebellious girl who couldn’t stay in school because she kept ditching class and had never held a job. So the journey began, I would relinquish the baby to a couple who knew how to be grown-ups.
I remember his red Monte Carlo that drove us to the city and back after meeting with the folks from the adoption agency. Two kids in a car on a highway making adult decisions.
When it came time to leave the hospital the woman from the adoption agency came in my room, had me sign a paper and then took the baby from me and walked away. I went into convulsions, my emotions wreaking havoc on me physically. I had held her and named her - Tiffany Marie. I know that goes against the rules, but if you have just met me I’ll tell you…..I don’t follow rules. Afterwards I walked down the corridor, stopping at the nursery window. The adoption lady had her back to me, baby in her arms, feeding her; I could see the little feet. I wept on the glass.
That night my mom let my boyfriend stay the night. We were all feeling a mix of everything. He had stolen the pacifier the hospital gave her to use; a memento of a life we would never know. When he pulled it out of his cowboy boot that was sitting on the floor of my teenage bedroom and showed me, I cried. The soundtrack of my days was this, the lyrics, “we’ll live forever knowing together that we did it all for the glory of love,” reached into my world and soothed me for the choice we made, even though it hurt like hell.
My mom and I stayed up until 5 am talking. The legal papers I had signed gave me two weeks to decide, for sure, what I was going to do. That first week following her birth I would wake up to a note from my mom laid out flat and bare and full of grace on the old brown and ratty carpet just outside my bedroom door. My brother, Doug, who at the time was dating a girl with a toddler, said she was offering to loan us all the things we needed that she had in storage - cloth diapers, footie pajamas, crib sheets, etc. WHAT??? Is my mom actually saying I get to keep the baby? After preparing what most people get nine months but we had a week, we would drive to the adoption agency in the city and pick her up – July 18, 1986 (If memory serves). My mom. My boyfriend. And I.
* * * * * *
I met him before any of this took place. I liked him. A lot. A bad boy. Perfect. We dated while I was on a ‘break’ from my other boyfriend before we called it off and I went back to my boyfriend. Hence the story above. But through it all there was always something about Bryan, deep in the crevices of this rebel’s heart.
* * * * * *
The boyfriend and I were young. We tried. It isn’t easy. Ever. Life pulls all of us at the seams. We broke up. Got back together. And broke up again. During this unstable time, which would not be my first, I got a job with my dad’s then girlfriend at an apartment community; it offered a salary which included an apartment of my own. I was eighteen. I jumped at the chance. I think the thing I loved the most was being able to smoke indoors and not hide it from my mom. (side note: it wasn’t until I was in my 30′s where I could smoke in front of her. And now I’ve been smoke free for three and a half years. Crazy life.)
I’ll never forget the day I was on a smoke break at work, on the patio of the office (the clubhouse was under construction) and I see this guy working on another building. It was October 1987. Could it be? Nah. Well, try. Okay.
And he turns and looks.
We started dating immediately. I was eighteen going on forty. I wanted a husband and a house and a white picket fence. I think I scared him, but not for long. We would marry the summer of 1988 – five days after my little girl turned two. I was five months pregnant. We looked into adoption for my girl, but the law said we had to be married for six months before we could start the process and it was expensive. It never happened.
At her birth I gave her my maiden name and she still had it until we were preparing to move to another city, her teen years looming, and I wanted her to have our name. So that required a couple of things. 1.) We would have to tell her Bryan isn’t her biological dad and 2.) Jumping through hoops of legal name changes.
The day came to tell her. We gathered both girls and climbed onto our bed and told her. She cried. “But I want you to be my daddy.” I get weepy thinking about it now.
I had to contact him to have him sign the paper saying he was okay with her name change. The initial phone call, after years of not speaking, took over two hours. He had come in and out of our lives on birthday’s and Christmas’s with gifts wrapped in paper, as well as the gift of his presence. But then. Suddenly, nothing. It was on that lengthy phone call when he explained why. It was a loving and kind thing to do. Though I probably didn’t recognize it as such until much later when I wasn’t so angry at the world.
Her name was changed. Our family moved. Life, as they say, happened.
Last Thursday, August 1st, she married a man with three kids of his own and no his last name isn’t Brady. One child’s mom is trying to get him to sign over rights so she can move away. A month ago my girl called me, we talked of her biological dad, she expressed things to me she never had before, we cried. Wedding plans took over and we didn’t speak any more on the subject. Until she text me Monday evening asking me his name. An hour later she called me on her way home from work. She had searched for him, found his daughter on Facebook. I looked, peeked at a family picture and confirmed. That was, in fact, him.
She didn’t know if this girl (21 years old) knew of her and had no intentions of creating any turmoil in their family. But then her heart must have moved her to do the scary and courageous thing and she sent this girl a message last night via Facebook. She knew of her, had even seen pictures of my girl when she was little, he had kept them. I cried. This girl called her dad, woke him up, told him who had just contacted him. He had tried to search my girl, but never found her. He gave the okay to give his number and said she could call. This girl was excited to be contacted and they messaged back and forth for some time. They’re similar in the way they look and even what I’ve gathered from their personalities. Life is so crazy and beautiful and unpredictable.
This week I have felt the rush of emotions with the force of the last twenty eight years pulsing through my body. I haven’t pretended to know much in my life. And I sure have been afraid of a lot; letting shame and anger be my guide. But God weaves His love and redemption throughout our lives, our hearts and our stories. Even when it takes decades. Of this I have no doubt. I can’t wait to see what He does next.