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Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Son the Godsend, part 5

My Son, the Godsend, part 5
I am going to backtrack for a moment and share some letters that my son and I exchanged, prior to meeting.
In preparation for meeting him, I wrote a the following letter:
April 29, 1999
My dearest son,
I imagine you are shocked, after 36 years, to hear that your biological mother is trying to establish a relationship with you.
When W.A.R.M  (Whatcom Adoption Reunion Movement) the search agency, asked me to write a letter to you, I sat down and wrote a ten page letter, all about my life and your biological family; that letter is ready to send, but I thought it best to keep things simple for this first contact.
What can I say?  When I held you the day you were born, I looked at your lovely long fingers and your exquisite little face and knew I was giving an awesome gift to someone.  Little did I know how intensely I would miss you.
I love you from the deepest recesses of my heart.  I think about you and pray for you every day.  I long for a relationship with you.
Please forgive me.
Then I made the decision, before he had a chance to respond, to send the other letter, thinking that he would be happy to know about the achievements of his siblings, essentially bragging about the family he was now going to be a part of.  How terribly insensitive that letter was!

His response: 
Every time I have tried to write something, I haven’t been able to.  I get angry.  Not so much at what happened in 1962, but what is happening now.
Why?  Why now?  Thirty six years later.  You come into my life and turn it upside down.  You want to be involved and you want it now.
You’re my blood and that is very important to me.  But so is commitment.  My family has made that commitment to me and for me for them. They saw me through all the bad years and stuck with me  and loved me no matter what.
You come into my life and send me information about how good your life has been, you and your family.  My life has been hard, very hard.  If you only knew some of the things that have happened to me, you would not be in such a rush to meet me.
Listen, I’m glad you are in my life now.  But I don’t know you and I’m scared.  I’m confused.  That doesn’t happen to me very often.
I don’t believe I had any hard feelings for 1962.  I just can’t understand, why now?  I’m sorry if this sounds harsh; it’s not meant to be.  
You could only guess what I am feeling, and you would be wrong.  I can’t help myself from loving you, but some days I try to. I do love you.  I do want to know you, but I make no promises other than I will try.
I have a high pressure job, a lot of stress.  I’m buying a house, our first one, at 36 years old.
I’m a drug addict in recovery and my life is great now.  It has never been better, my life.  On the other hand, I feel like I’m going through the motions.  I have a lot on  my shoulders.
I hope you try to understand.

How brutally honest he was and is!
After exchanging these letters. we met (see part 4) and one of the first things he said was “When you find out about me, you won’t want to know me.”  I realized I was speaking the truth of my heart, when I responded, “There is nothing you could tell me that would keep me from loving you and wanting you in my life.  I love you unconditionally.”
In fact, his story of addiction and recovery made me love him even more, if that were possible. He has overcome great odds, with the help of his faithful wife and supportive family.  At the time I first met him, he had just bought a lovely home and was running a successful business as a house painter.  I met his wife and son, his employees and the members of the adult softball team he coached.  I was so pleased to see how much he was loved and respected by  all of these people. 
  As we chatted at the coffee shop, drove to replace my shattered tire and drove to his worksite and ball field, he talked about how painful it was for him to hear what a good life I had and how successful his half siblings were, while his own father had left his mother and four adopted children, after suffering from alcoholism.  Things just hadn’t turned out the way I had hoped they would.  in the best adoption scenario, the child has more opportunities and stability in the adoptive family than what the single mom could have provided.  In this case, my other five children had educational opportunities that Jim did not, and more importantly, a steady, loving father. Thankfully, Jim  had a wonderful, strong mother, a nurse, who raised all four of the children alone after her husband left. 
His mom was lovely to me, and I am so happy that I had an opportunity, while she was still living, to thank her for raising my son.  I attended her funeral, at Jim’s request.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

This week!

Several people have asked me to write My Son, the Godsend, part 5, so I plan to work on that this week... but in the meantime, here is a picture of me with Jim, his wife, Teresa and one of his sons, Bobby, celebrating Jim's 51st birthday on September the 6, 2013. His older son, Zach wasn't able to join us. Art was taking the picture.   I will also be writing this week about a little miracle story about my connection to my friend, Jordanna, the subject of  "Poem for a Dying Friend."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Time of the Trillium

It was elegant, unexpected, illusionary; a flower almost hidden in a bower of fern. Three glossy leaves, very dark green, provided a frame.
The flower seemed to peek out from the ferns, as if inviting me to come closer. I bent to see if it had a scent and found that only a fresh, earthy smell rose toward me, not the sweet perfume my child
s mind had expected. My fingers stroked the pristine petals; they felt like the satin edging on my favorite blanket. The leaves were slick and smooth, the ferns feathery and light. I had never seen a flower quite like it.
But more than its physical properties, the flower I saw in the Bellingham woods one spring day many years ago imparted a sense of wonder that have stayed with me all of my life, for it was through that flower that I was first introduced to the mystery of God. In that sun dappled woods, protected by towering pines, I experienced for the first time an awareness of Gods beauty and creation. There was a perfection about the scene, the pale green moss carpeting the forest floor, the shafts of sunlight dancing here and there, that even my childish mind could appreciate. But it was my mothers voice and the feel of her hand on my shoulder, the way she bent down beside me to examine this fabulous treasure, that cemented the moment in my mind forever.
“Thats a Trillium,” she said. “Its a very special flower because it represents God in the Trinity.” We didnt belong to a church at that time and this was the first time she had spoken to me about God. Her own family had not been churchgoers, but somewhere along the line she had learned about the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and she explained them to me in the simplest terms. I saw ripe tears, like silver coins, slip from the corners of her eyes, tears that I only understood many years later, when I too experienced the holy yearning, the longing that can suddenly pounce upon the heart... Kneeling there, in her faded slacks and dimity shirt, her hand still on my shoulder, her voice softened as she continued. “Its the only flower in the whole world,” she said, “that has three petals and three leaves. It always blooms just at Easter time, to remind us of the sacrifice Jesus made for us.” She straightened up, placed my hand in hers and began to lead me on the path towards home. She walked very slowly, her lanky legs barely moving, as if to prolong this magical moment as she told me about the life and death of Jesus Christ. Her voice shook slightly as she spoke. Her large hand gripped mine a bit too tightly, but I didnt mind. I wanted that day to go on forever, with its heightened intimacy, shared mystery and sense of discovery.
And though my mother is gone now, that day did go on forever, as fresh today as the day it was lived. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Bear and the Gum Balls

By Judy Borman Harding

My grandson, who was ten at the time, had come home from a play date with one of his California neighbors, excitedly telling our daughter that “Those people are really rich!”  My daughter knew the family he had visited was a family of modest means, so she asked him what made him think that.
“They have gum-ball machines in EVERY room,” he answered. 
When I heard this story, the wheels began to turn.  “Hmmm,” I thought, “So all grandpa and I have to do to make our grandkids think we are rich is to have a gum-ball machine in every room!”  So in preparation for the grandkids’ upcoming visit, I went shopping. Somehow, though, I couldn’t imagine fooling Alex into thinking we were rich, because our Rim home only has four rooms and adding gum-ball machines didn’t make it look particularly opulent.
  Then I saw it:  At a garage sale, I found one of those floor model gum-ball machines with three deep chambers, just the thing to impress a child.  In my attempt to appear rich, however,  I was considerably poorer after investing in the machine and all of the gum-balls to fill the three compartments.  Nonetheless, I was quite happy to set the machine on our front porch, where it would make a great first impression when the grandkids came to visit.  Well, that gum-ball machine made quite an impression, all right, and not just on the kids!
After our grandchildren (and a few neighborhood kids) had glutted themselves on gum-balls for a day or two, helping themselves to the penny pot I provided, Alex and his sister, Tessa, were sitting on our couch chatting, when Alex started screaming “Grandma, come look!  Come look!”  Art and I ran to the living room, glanced out the window, and saw..... A BEAR!  He was lumbering up our steps, his beady eyes fixed on the gum-ball machine.  As we all watched in horrified surprise, he whacked the machine as hard as he could and it crashed to the floor, breaking all three chambers.  Hundreds of gum-balls came skittering out, covering the porch in a gay carpet of yellow, red, blue and green.
Needless to say, that bear feasted!  For almost an hour he sat there, happily stuffing himself with the confections.  It was fascinating to watch him pick them up, with his prehensile grip, one by one, chewing blissfully.  After  he had eaten the very last one, with the exception of a couple he futilely tried to retrieve from a crack in the floor of the porch, he slowly dragged himself down the steps, turned for one last look, gave a satisfied roar, and disappeared into the woods.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sculptured Nails

I had my nails done;
I just had the urge.
They’re sculptured and painted,
(I decided to splurge!)
They’re filed and strengthened,
Tended and cleaned,
Buffed, shaped and lengthened,
Polished and creamed.
And when all completed
And fully displayed,
I posed them before me,
Artfully arrayed,
And with a bold confidence,
Not previously known,
My hands took on a life of their own!
They fluttered and flitted,
Carelessly flicking,
Gestured and waved,
Nails noisily clicking,
And I felt like a woman 
Wholly transformed,
As my hands, like dancers,
Gaily performed!

I’ve worn sculptured nails
For a week or more.
I’ve tallied up points, 
and here’s the score:
Three nylons snagged,
Two boxes unopened,
Four pop tops unlifted,
Two nails broken!
One half hour wasted.
While touch up was drying,
Another nail chipped;
(I’m reduced to crying!)
So though it’s been fun,
I’m beginning to see,
I’m afraid fake nails,
Are really not me!

Judy Borman Harding

Monday, July 8, 2013

by Judy Borman Harding, July 8, 201

“She lost a breast, you know.”
Of all the comments I heard my mother make as she sat sipping coffee with the neighbors, these were the most shocking.  
In my twelve year old mind, I could not imagine how someone could “lose” a breast.  I remember pondering this for several days, even dreaming of a woman whose breast suddenly dropped from her body and flew away, as she looked frantically about for it.
When I finally asked my mother about this, her explanation was almost as horrifying.  The ‘C‘ word was rarely spoken out loud in those days, so in whispered tones, she told me that her friend had had Cancer and had to have her breasts surgically removed to prevent its spread.  The idea that someone would have her breast cut off, even to save her life, was stunning to me.  I started looking at people I met in a new light, wondering if they were missing any body parts, and I often examined my own budding breasts, wondering if I would someday lose one of them. 
Other than the death of my dog, Omar, I hadn’t experienced any other deaths or serious illnesses among my family and acquaintances, so the idea of Cancer began to loom large, filling my head with morbid fantasies.   
So when my sixth grade teacher, Sister Mary Jane, became ill and we were told that her illness was serious, I assumed, correctly, that she had cancer.   We students weren’t told the nature of her illness, and I only had my suspicions confirmed by overhearing a hushed conversation between two parents.
Sister Mary Jane’s death marked a rite of passage for me.  It was the first death of a close person I had experienced and I was extremely impacted by her passing, so much so that one day, perhaps forty years after the fact, I was swimming laps in a pool and for some reason began to think of her.  I was alone in the pool and I was suddenly beset with great wracking sobs, which sounded to me, underwater, like some ancient keening ritual.  There was something immensely cleansing and cathartic about those sobs. I realized that I had carried an unresolved grief all of those years and I was able, in some way, to release a pain I hadn’t even realized I carried with me.
As I write about the death of Sister Mary Jane, I realize I received some life empowering blessings directly related to her death:
1.  I learned that death, even of a loved one, is ultimately bearable.
2.  I learned that emotions may take many years to be resolved and may sometimes leap on us unexpectedly.
3.  I learned that good things may come out of the most hurtful situations.  In this case, the substitute teacher, Mary Mura, who filled in for Sister for the rest of the school year, became my all-time favorite teacher and a mentor throughout my school years.
4.   I learned the power of consoling words.  At Mrs. Mura’s suggestion, (the first person, besides my mother,  who actively encourage, my writing talent), I wrote a poem about Sister Mary Jane, which was published in the school newsletter and sent to her biological relatives, who sent me a beautiful handkerchief and a card I still treasure, with the words:
 Easter, 1955
Dear Judy,
It was very sweet of you to remember Sister Mary Jane in your school magazine.  I feel sure that Sr. Mary Jane is also remembering you in a special way.  We also want to wish you a Blessed and most Happy Easter
Very Sincerely Yours, Sr. Mary Jane’s sister, Nettie
5.  I learned the value of thank you cards, handwritten.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Death of a pet, part four

Detour drowned in our swimming pool.  
There is no other way to say it. The bald facts are that my beloved, innocent little doggie  jumped or fell into the pool.  
After my  principal told me I couldn’t bring Detour to school anymore, I started leaving him home with our older Lab, Batman, during the day. Shea Middle school was only blocks away from my home, so I often went home for lunch and one day, when I arranged to meet my hubby there, I got the shock of my life. 
When Art and the dogs weren’t in the house, I went outside searching for them and saw that Art was using the pool scoop.  At first I thought he was cleaning out leaves, but then I noticed the grief on his face and I realized he was fishing Detour’s inert body out of the pool.  Art laid him on the grass and he and I and Batman stood around him in stunned silence.  Art and I fell into each others and arms and sobbed.
Since I was due back at school, I tried to contain my grief.  Once I got back to school, however, after leaving Art to deal with the situation, I could not hold it together and as my students began filing in, I burst out screaming and crying and I just couldn’t stop.  When I managed to tell them what had happened, they all began to cry too and someone went to get help from  the prinicpal.  She found a substitute to take my class and I went to an empty classroom, thinking I would be able to calm down and return to work the following period, but I just could not stop crying.  After school, students kept pouring into the classroom giving me hugs and condolences and some stayed with me until I was in shape to drive home. 
  The healing process after this loss was very slow.  I thought a lot about Detour’s brief and shining life and once I realized he had done more in the year he had existed that most dogs do in their entire life, I was somewhat consoled. His effervescent little self was indelibly printed on the minds of so many students and he had lit up the lives of several people he had visited in care homes for the elderly. He had also given our family, including  Batman, much joy. 
Here is one of of my favorite humans, my Mom and my favorite pet:

  1. Twelve to fourteen year olds, who often seem so disengaged, have sweet and tender souls. The outpouring of love I received from my students, the many letters, cards, pictures (even a copper bas relief of Detour from one boy) are healing to this day. 
  2.   I realize how important it is to live each moment to the fullest, as Detour did. 
  3. I realize that when someone is inconsolable with grief, they may need to be alone for awhile to process that grief, but will need a loving community to support them.
  4.   I realize how important it is to fence swimming pools, which we did after this incident.  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Death of a Pet, part 3

“Judy, do you have a little critter in here somewhere?” asked my principal. 

 Vanette was glancing about my classroom, looking for the dog that had been reported by the parents of a student who was suffering from allergies each day after attending my English class.

It crossed my mind for a brief moment to deny I had a dog at school, but decided I had to be honest about my little Cocker Spaniel puppy, Detour, who was at that moment in his cage in the adjoining workroom.  I was teaching seventh and eight graders at Shea Middle School in Phoenix and had, for several weeks, been bringing my newly acquired puppy to school, knowing all the while that  I would eventually be called to the principal’s office for naughty behavior, but willing to take the chance, because I felt Detour needed company and care.

Detour came into my life as a happenstance of geography, or more accurately because I am one of those people others refer to as someone who “couldn’t find her way out of a paper bag”.  Here’s the story:

My hubby and I had decided to buy a vacation home near Mount Baker, Washington, one of my favorite childhood destinations and the area in which my mother had grown up.  On my first house-hunting trip to the foothills, which I hadn’t visited since I had summited the mountain 40 years earlier, I made a wrong turn as I drove towards Bellingham, where I was staying.  I had driven awhile before I realized the scenery didn’t look quite right.  I passed several farms and fields, trying to find someone to direct me.  Finally, I saw a man standing by his garage, and I pulled into his driveway and got out of my car to ask directions for the quickest way to town.

As I walked towards the man, several adorable little golden balls of fur came frolicking towards me and one of the puppies broke from the pack and ran up to me.  He raised his delightfully furry face, as if waiting for a kiss.  I was immediately enchanted, in love at first sight!  Though I had no plans whatever to add a second dog to our household and had no idea how I would get him home to Phoenix, I HAD to have that puppy.  Other pets my family had had in the past, including our faithful Lab, Batman, had been rescue dogs, and I was shocked at the price the man wanted for the “Pure Bred,” but I would have drained my bank account and lived on noodles for the rest of my trip to keep the dog who had captured my heart, so in a few days, I found myself heading back to Phoenix with “Detour” in a dog carriage.
From day one, Detour and Batman bonded.  Though I felt a little guilty that I had taken Detour away from his mom, I was consoled by the fact that he adored the older dog,  trotting along side of him throughout the day.  But, In spite of Batman’s protectiveness, I was concerned about leaving Detour home alone at such a young age for the long hours the family was away at school and work, so I hit upon the idea of just taking him along to school with me.
Yes, I knew that pets (even gerbils) were not allowed in the classroom without permission from the administration, but that didn’t stop me.  I started bringing Detour to school and letting the kids hand him around during class, each getting an allotted time to fondle and nuzzle him.  I had a hundred and fifty students that semester and it seemed that every one of them adored Detour as much as I did.  I noticed that the ones who seemed to be especially thrilled to hold and cuddle him each day tended to be the eighth grade boys, especially the troubled ones.  I would sometimes notice a remarkable change in demeanor as students petted him and some of my most challenging students began to change before my eyes.  Some of the students would  hang around as long as possible after class and come by after school for an extra face licking from the one who seemed always so thrilled to see them, the one who offered an unconditional love some of them had never experienced before.  
It was inevitable, of course, that Detour’s days in Middle School would have to end.  I sadly accepted my principal’s direction and rationalized that Detour was now old enough to stay home and would provide comfort and friendship to our aging Batman.
Little did I know that leaving my beloved at home, expecting an aging, feeble dog to protect him, would be his death sentence.

To be continued...
Art by Lycia Harding

Friday, June 28, 2013

Death of a Pet, part 2

Death of A Pet

In spite of all the prayers and tears:
the end!
My dog I so adored,
My friend!
My touching, licking,
Tender pet,
And yet;
I feel him ever-present at my side,
My light, my love, my guide,
 “Sit up”, 
“Roll over”
I offered him my heart to steal,
And he came running at my call;
My dog, my friend,
He was my all!


There is a place
Where dogs convene; 
Who’ve gone away 
And can’t be seen, 
They frisk and frolic all around 
And paw and dig up all the ground
And bark all night if they desire
And roll around in muck and mire
Cavort and carry on all day
With nothing more to do than play
And feast on beef and leather shoes
And gnaw on toys and doggy chews.
They chase some sticks and bite some balls
No fences, houses, stakes or walls
They’ve no constraints and no complaints
They lick and slobber without restraints
In doggie heaven, they leap for joy
And hear no words but “Atta boy!”

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Death of A Pet, part one

“Your dog has been poisoned.”
As I sat on the steps of my Washington home, reading the letter that had arrived in the mail that morning, it seemed that time stopped and some cosmic photographer clicked a shot of that moment in such a way that it is engraved in my mind forever.  It appears in my mind's eye, even today, as a snap shot.   In this out of body 'photo', I am a ten year old girl in pedal pushers and pony tail, sitting on the porch steps, holding a letter. I can see each blade of grass growing up between the concrete blocks in the walkway, the grains of wood in the porch steps, the weeping willow to the left.  Tears are flowing from my eyesas my face is contorted with horror and unbelief,  profoundly shocked and upset.
The letter I held in my hand was from Miriam, who had been my best friend before my family moved from the tiny town of Gebo, Wyoming to Bellingham, WA.  According to Miriam, whose family had adopted our dog, someone had deliberately tempted Omar with poisoned meat and he had died almost instantly after eating it.
Omar Khayyam.  The esoteric name stood out from the names of the other neighborhood dogs... Spot, Lucky, Buddy.  But then, Omar, who was named by my dad in honor of a Persian poet and philosopher he admired, was a different sort of dog, a wolf-coyote mix who embodied all of the  best features of both breeds; he was loyal, intelligent, playful, protective. 
I had developed a special bond with Omar because I believed he had saved my life. One day we were walked through the prairie and a rattlesnake suddenly reared up, just feet away from me, rattling its deadly warning.  Omar yelped and pounced, alerting me to the approaching danger.   I leaped away and Omar abandoned his attack on the snake and ran with me, escorting me to safety. In my childish mind, I was convinced I would have died if he had not rescued me, and thereafter we became inseparable.  When I found out we were moving and would have to leave Omar behind, I was inconsolable, but happy that Miriam’s family had agreed to care for Omar.  Now, I was broken hearted to hear that he had been so mercilessly killed.
From this experience, I learned for the first time, that there are cruel people in the world.  I learned never to discount the depth of a child’s attachment to a pet and grief over its loss, and I also leaned that childhood experiences can have long lasting emotional consequences, since it was many years before I was able to allow myself to get attached to a pet again. 
To be continued... 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Now is the Time!

 I originally started writing this blog as a memoir, in which I would explore the major themes of my life: early childhood abuse, unplanned pregnancy, interracial marriage, estrangement from family, mental illness, my spiritual journey, etc.

But today I have been diverted to a subject I hadn’t planned on exploring:  DEATH.
When I discovered, through blog tracking statistics, that many of the 3,000 people who have read my blog, did so because they Googled "poem for a dying friend," which just  happens to be the title of a poem I posted,  I began to think more about writing  about my own experiences with death. 
I will be writing this week about:

Death of a pet 

Death of a teacher
Death (suicide) of a student 
Death of my son's friend  
Death of a neighbor, 
Death of a close friend, 
Death of my mother
Death of my father
Death of a friend’s child  

Writing is a strange disease!  It is at once the affliction and the balm.  Those of us who write with transparency about even the most difficult things is our lives do so, I suppose, for cathartic purposes, but also to hopefully enlighten and assist others who have gone through similar experiences.
With that in mind, I commit for the next few days, to explore my own experiences of death in the hopes that my vantage point of age and wisdom may be in some way provide healing for my readers.

Tune in tomorrow for the first installment, Death of a Pet

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm back!

I just realized there was a way to track viewers on a blog and was stunned to find this:
Page views all time history for Tree House Reflections
I only write on my blog now and then so could not believe over three thousand people have viewed it! Researching the stats page a little further, I discovered that many readers have come from FaceBook and have been primarily interested in my stories about the son I relinquished for adoption, but a great many more viewers have come from Google and Bing, from people who were searched "poem for a dying friend" which just happens to be the title of one of my poems. The poem I wrote is about a specific person and relationship, but now I am really inspired to write a more generic poem since the interest is high, so check my blog tomorrow for a new post!

There is so much more to write about my son... the painful and difficult, but ultimately triumphant,  process of building relationship with one you love intensely but have wounded immeasurably and a mother-child bond that did not develop in the usual way, but is in some ways even more intense for that very reason.  There is more to write about the damage done by hidden secrets, the perceptions that often are not at all based in reality.... but that will wait for another day, as I find myself encouraged to write about that ever-looming subject, death, and especially the death of a friend, an experience that grows more and more frequent as my husband and I move into that last quarter of our life.  Hopefully, I have gained some wisdom and can write something insightful and/or encouraging.  Tune in tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My son, the Godsend, Part 4

After receiving the call that my son was willing to have contact with me, the agency suggested we exchange letters and pictures before meeting in person. In my letter, I expressed my regret and sorrow, offered my love and asked him to forgive me. Jim’s letter expressed his feeling honestly, stressing the commitment his family had made to him and questioning why I had waited so long to search for him.  As you can imagine, we were both in great turmoil, as we made plans to meet in person.  
I went to my home town of Bellingham and rented a car to drive to meet him in Everett, about an hour away.  He chose a restaurant for our first meeting and I was grateful for this because I felt I was less likely to break down in public.
Then a stunning thing happened:  As I was about a half hour away from the  designated meeting spot, I saw a huge board falling off of a truck  in front of me, heading toward me at great speed.  For just a moment, I thought I was about to be decapitated, but at the last minute, the board veered and sliced through my tire, destroying it.  I managed to get off on the shoulder of the road and broke down in sobs as I realized I was going to miss the most important meeting of my life.  This was in 1999 before I had a cell phone, so I had no way to contact Jim.  The thought that I just wouldn’t show up and he would have no way to know what happened, was unbearable.  I got out of the car and stared hopefully at each passing car, but no one paid the slightest attention to me.  Finally, I decided my only option was to hitch hike!  I put out my thumb, but still people went speeding by without the least bit of concern for this obviously stranded middle aged woman.  Finally, a car pulled over and a young woman with two little ones in her back seat asked if she could help me.  I was hysterical at this point, crying loudly, and I told her what had happened and why it was so important for me to get to Everett.  She calmly said she would take me there.  As we drove, I thanked her over and over again and told her I would even be a little early, because I had allowed extra time to buy a gift for the grandson I was about to meet for the first time.  Though the shopping time had evaporated, I would  be on time to meet my son.  When we pulled up into the restaurant lot, this wonderful woman told me she had just been to the toy store to buy toys for her children and she opened her trunk and told me to help myself to anything I wanted! Her trunk was full of all sorts of toys, so I chose a gift, for which she refused payment. Unfortunately, I was so excited and overwhelmed that I forgot to get her contact information, so I have never been able to properly thank her for her kindness.
Since I arrived a few minutes early, I went into the convenience store near the restaurant to freshen up, and there, standing right in front of me was my son, my unmistakable son, well over six feet, like most of the men in my father’s family, and unmistakably a Borman!  He recognized me from my photos and extended his arms, taking me into a huge, warm, loving hug... reunited at last!
to be continued....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Son, Part 3

My Son, the Godsend, part 3

Searching for my child:  A timeline

1983:  When Jim was 22 and I was 42 (married and the mother of five), I wrote to the agency that had handled the placement,  asking if they could give me any information about my son’s adoption.  I also admitted to having blanked much of the details of this traumatic experience from my mine and requested any additional info that could be given to me. Bernadette C. Smetka, a social worked with the Seattle office, sent me the following letter, written August 31: 
I checked your file and leaned that you came to Seattle to have your baby. Catholic Charities placed you with a family from June 10 until August 14.  Then you stayed at Villa Maria Home for Unwed Mothers near providence Hospital until you entered the hospital to have your baby.  Your son was born September 6, 1962 at 7 p.m.  He weighed 9 lbs. 3 ounces and was 20 inches long.  He was a fine, healthy baby and was placed for adoption at your request.  I cannot give you any information about his family because all adoption records are sealed by court order.  (signed) Bernadette C. Smetks, social worker.

1990. I learned that the Inernational Soundex Reunion Registry would take information submitted by a birth parent and match it to information for a birth child, ONLY IF BOTH PARTIES freely submitted their information.  Since Jim had not submitted his birth information, a match could not be made at that time, but this agency informed me that I could apply for a non certified copy of the birth certificate according to a Washington State law, effective June 7th, 1990,
Senate bill 6493, section 2, line 35, as follows:
Department of health shall provide a non-certified copy of the original birth certificate to the child’s birth parent.  When I received this document, it said:
This is an original record from a sealed file as requested by court order. This is not the legal birth certificate currently on file for this person.  Added confidential information will not be made available to the public for inspection. 
 According to this document, Boy Borman was white, delivered at forty weeks, mother's age was 20 and, most devastatingly, the box after the word “legitimate” was marked ‘no’. 

1998:  I Contacted Washington Adoption Reunion Movement (WARM), an agency that assigns a trained intermediary to search records and facilitate a reunion, if both parties are willing.

1990: Ten months after initiating the search, I was becoming discouraged and desperate.    I decided to fast and pray for three days leading up to Pentecost Sunday, the day that celebrates the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples.  “Father God,” I prayed, “I too wish to have a gift on Pentecost; please return my son to me.” When I came home from Mass there was a message on my phone answering machine with the words I had been longing to hear for so long: “We have found your son and he is willing to have contact with you.”
to be continued...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My Son, the Godsend, part 2

During my senior year of college, I fell in love with a classmate and spent many happy hours with him, explored the northwest trails, camping, cycling, sailing,  clam digging.  When our relationship became sexually intimate (my first!) I expected marriage would be the next step.  When he abruptly announced that he wanted to “explore the world” before settling down, I was devastated and confused.  He told me he would write to me and seemed to expect that we would pick up our relationship upon his return, but I felt  disheartened and abandoned.  
One day soon after he left for Europe, as my roommate and I cycled along Chuckanut Drive, on our way from our college campus to  Larrabee State Park, a car drove by and two young men whistled and called out to us.  Being proper young girls of the times, we ignored them, but were secretly pleased when they later located us in the park.  As I sat on a rock, looking at the ocean, Max came and sat beside me.  A handsome, blue-eyed blond with an athletic build, Max was a navy pilot stationed at nearby Whidbey Island Naval Air Base. In my vulnerable state, I quickly fell into an intimate relationship with him and before long I found I was pregnant.  
I have blanked much of those days from my mind.  As Donna Portuesi, MSW, says in Warm Journeys, Spring, 2000, “ Due to the psychological trauma, amnesia may develop around certain aspects of this experience.” 
I dropped out of school, one semester short of graduating, went to Seattle and requested help from Catholic Charities, who placed me as a live-in helper with a young family and then in a Home for Unwed Mothers for the last month of my pregnancy.   I do not remember any details of the birth, except for the brief moment I was allowed to hold my son, a moment forever seared in my mind, one that bring tears to this day.  I don’t remember how long I stayed in the hospital or where I went directly afterwards, though within several days I was on a plane to Wrangell, Alaska, where I had lined up a job teaching second grade on a ‘provisional’ certificate, ironically for a teacher taking a maternity leave.  
I can’t remember anything about Max, his home town, his age, his interests, not even his last name.  I’m not sure, but I don’t think I even told him about the pregnancy.  If I did tell him, I believe I may have buried the memory of a second rejection coming so soon on the heels of the first.  I choose to believe, and I think it is true, that I simply didn’t tell him because I didn’t love him and had no desire to marry him.  In fact, I did not tell anyone, not my parents, my siblings, my friends.  Needless to say, this was the loneliest time of my life. 
My son was born on September 6, 1962.  To my everlasting regret and shame, I relinquished him the following day.
Words do not often fail me, but they fail me here.   There is no way to describe the pain, confusion and loss I felt.

to be continued...

Friday, May 17, 2013

My Son, the Godsend, Part 1

This is the story of a woman who gave up her child for adoption in 1962, when 'having a child out of wedlock' was viewed much more differently than it is today.  After longing all of her life to find him, she was ultimately re-united with him and his family.  I am that woman and I have decided to start this story in the middle and work backwards as I post each day...  then forward to the triumphant day when I first met him!
My Lost Son
My son, the unknown own,
My secret, my sin
My heart now desires
To hold you in.
For years I have suffered
Immeasurable pain,
How I could leave you
I can’t explain.
It seemed I has no say,
No will;
I unknowingly swallowed
The bitterest pill.
I’ve grieved so intensely
For your lost touch,
The sorrow I bear
Is almost too much
Great grief overwhelms me
And as I weep,
I pray the Lord,
Our souls to keep.