I bolted out of bed and threw on yesterday’s clothes. I knew the call would be coming, for my patient was in labor earlier. For the twenty mile drive to the hospital, I couldn’t stop thinking about this patient’s history and desire to place her baby for adoption.
Yes, her husband was fighting in the African theatre of the war and didn’t know about her pregnancy. And, yes, it wasn’t his baby, for she’d been raped and dared not tell him.
Out of breath, I pushed the delivery room door open and heard her screams, insisting that she talk with me before the baby came. “I don’t want to see my baby,” she said, in between labor pains. “If I see her, I won’t be able to go through with my plans for adoption. I don’t even want to know the sex of my baby. I just can’t bear it.”
“Soon, the baby came and my patient was whisked away to her private room. Tears flooded when I saw this little one, so tiny, yet so beautiful.”
-Dr. Wells B. Fillinger
Clinton Memorial Hospital
August 4, 1945
I was that baby.
Warm tears landed on my five-pound newborn body, like spring rain. I wanted to feel them forever.
What was it about those tears? Were they saturated with hope and comfort? Were they bright lights at the end of the traumatic tunnel of living my first nine months of life in the womb of a mother who fantasized abortion? Or, were they seeds of hope, planted in secret to produce a great harvest later in life?
Whatever it was, I wanted more.
But then, nurse Muriel bent close to the doctor’s ear and whispered something. What did she whisper?
Was there something wrong with me?
Was I ugly?
Was I too little?
Is that why she suddenly whisked me off to a dimly-lit room where pleading and plaintiff newborn cries hovered over me, like sticky smog in LA?
Then, the nurse shoved me into a box of glass-a new fangled device which we would call an incubator today.
I kicked and screamed bloody murder. I cried and cried, but the sounds bounced back, like ping pong balls.
Where was the orphan doctor? Why did he not come? If only I could feel his tears again, I’d survive.
It would be decades later, while searching for birth history, that those tears I once felt would be validated. Dr. Filllinger’s granddaughter, during a phone conversation said, “My grandfather was an orphan himself and wept at the birth of every baby he delivered.”
Quest For Freedom from Abandonment
And so at birth, love mingled with loss, like water and oil. This combination waged war inside me, from birth onward. Avoid abandonment at all costs and seek love no matter whom the giver. Loss sent me on a lifetime quest to find freedom from deeply-embedded fears of abandonment that warred against my ability to receive love.
Even though my mother probably didn’t intend abandonment, newborn me perceived her absence in that manner. Abandonment means:
- To leave in a troubled state
- To leave behind
- To cast away
- To leave completely and finally
- Careless disregard for consequences
As a person who was adopted, I create abandonment in relationships by pushing others away…others who love me. It is a well-traveled highway in my brain. The resulting abandonment confirms the lie I’ve believed that I am worthy only of such abandonment.
The best example is that I hated my adoptive mother and during the teen years did whatever necessary to inflict wounds. It was like we were doing a mother/child dance, and we were constantly at odds with one another. I kept stepping on her toes, for I didn’t want her–I wanted my first mother, Elizabeth.
One time, I was invited to go to Texas for leadership training for becoming a Bible teacher and speaker. I’d never been away from my husband and two daughters, and just that would have been enough to get me fearful. We were required to do homework upon arrival and I couldn’t do it-it felt impossible, like Algebra. As the week progressed, my emotions were fragile, like a thread ready to break. At one meal with other leaders, I appeared confident by asking others probing questions, but then, I broke down in tears in front of everyone.
The person who went with me for training was a super star person, and on the opening evening while we were at the CEO’s home, along with twenty other leaders, we were asked to give our “testimony.”
I didn’t even know what that meant and as I listened to her tell her glowing story of perfect parents and past leadership roles, I wanted to disappear.
Other candidates for leadership observed my inferiority with her and emphasized that I had no reason for lack of worth. This made me even more fearful–they could see my fear.
The coudegras of the training was that each person would have a personal interview with the CEO and be told whether or not they’d be accepted into the leadership role.
I was convinced of rejection.
Rejection didn’t happen, but fear remained, like a ball and chain around my ankle, as I returned home to do something I’d never choose–public speaking.
What I’ve learned over the years is: God is in the details by proving:.
- There’s another way that needs are met that far exceeds the human level.
When looking back at my basic need for connection with a fellow adopted person, who better than Dr. Wells B. Fillinger? This is a need that the majority of adoptees experience. When adoptees are with one another, they feel understood and accepted, oftentimes, without even a word.
- Visions are oftentimes validated in everyday life.
Just as I envisioned as an adult that tears fell on my newborn body, I learned through an intricate telling of details that Dr. Fillinger cried at the birth of every baby. I believe those tears were sacred, a gift from God that no one could work up or produce. A gift that made me aware of a God who loves me.
- There’s something bigger than fear–love.
It’s taken me a lifetime to see that other way, but now that I can, in looking back, I can see that my embedded fear of abandonment has disappeared.
I discovered the presence of someone who is alive and communicative in the littlest of details. He is masterfull–He will make His presence known in a way that only the individual recognizes His presence. He will bend over backward to show His love to His children.
- It’s possible to be free from a painful past.
Within the last year, I’ve experienced a myriad of changes inwardly.
What was going on inside my head and heart? The people in my relationships hadn’t changed, but my attitude and perspective about them definitely had. Where were these warm thoughts coming from? Why was I remembering mom’s best-in-town apple pie, her gentle hands smoothing oil on my asthmatic chest, or her affectionate care for Dinny Dinwit, my tiger kitty?
Maybe I was experiencing a brain change? After all, you hear in adoption circles about how the brain is damaged by trauma, and yet can heal. So I rummaged through all my books about the brain..in vain.
Then, I wondered if I was cracking up. Maybe I was hallucinating? I’ve been known to do that when clinically depressed, but the hubs assured me I was fine.
One day I thought about my late mom’s wedding rings. A rather bizarre thought, right? It was bizarre for two reasons. First, mom died nearly 30 years ago and second, we had a tumultuous relationship during the growing-up years. All I remembered over my seven decades of life was negative and painful.
For 53 years, I’d unintentionally carried them from geographical move to geographical move, from California to Canada. To me, they were worthless pieces of junk that should’ve been tossed decades ago.
Moments later, I rushed to my jewelry drawer, like a gold digger. And, there they were–one prominent band and a delicate eternity band, all lacking the diamonds that originally graced them.
Then, my mind flooded with new thoughts. What was it like on the evening Mom and Dad were engaged? Did Dad get down on his knee to propose? And, was she the blushing, soon-to-be bride, dreaming of a house, children, and happiness forever? I slipped the tarnished rings onto my finger and ran to husband Bob’s office, like a kid.
Just a month ago, while eating at our favorite restaurant, Bob pulled out a small box with the same rings that had been totally refurbished into glistening silver and diamonds.
This experience with mom’s rings convinced me that healing my painful past is not something that can only happen in heaven, but it can occur also in everyday life on planet earth. I have never felt happier or more whole than I do today, and I’m so thankful.
5. I need magic eyes to see God in the details.
Since then, I’ve discovered the presence of someone who is alive and communicative in the littlest of details. He is masterfull–He will make His presence known in a way that only the individual recognizes His presence. He will bend over backward to show His love to His children.
Just ask him!