Healing From Within – Adoption – Long Term Effects on the Birth Mother and Child
Host: Sheryl Glick R.M.T.
Special Guest: Kimberly Smythe
In today’s episode of “Healing From Within” your host Sheryl Glick author of The Living Spirit: Answers for Healing and Infinite Love welcomes Kimberly Smythe author of Letting Go Again which shares her reunion with her daughter Kelcey, the trauma of giving up her child 18 years previously and the emotionally fraught efforts to reconnect once they were reunited.
We will experience Kimberly’s reunion with her daughter Kelcey and witness the tender subject matter of adoption loss abandonment sorrow and discuss the stigma society attaches to the birth mother. Reunions and warm and fuzzy feelings like those seen on Oprah style adoption reunions often end in tears and long buried fears and sorrow which need to be addressed once the past is confronted. We will raise important questions about motherhood, the effects of adoption and our definition of family.
Kimberly thinks back to her childhood and remembers an experience or event that may have given her a glimpse into her future and the destiny that would most naturally unfold for her later on in her life. She writes “One day, when I was still a preschooler, my mom gathered all five of us kids into the living room of our home. Young though I was, I immediately understood that something important was about to happen. We kids didn’t get to spend much time in our living room; it was a place reserved for adults. In her usual soft, loving way, Mom announced that our dad was coming home. I recall watching carefully as my older sisters and brother started jumping up and down, squealing in excitement as a torrent of questions spilled from their lips. “When? When? When will daddy be home?” I remember it so clearly because it was the first time I felt a sense of separation…”
Kimberly mentions living the nomadic life of an Air Force brat. She speaks about children in military families moving around a lot and writes “So feeling like an outsider was not unusual for me. It’s hard to immerse yourself in friendships when you know that you will be moving on again in a couple of years and have to start over. While I was fascinated with the diversity of cultures at this public school in
Hawaii, trying to work out the codes of behavior was exhausting. I didn’t want to worry my parents, so I never talked about it at home. Perhaps these many changes early on in life were challenging for a sensitive and creative child like Kimberly and the following writing reflects these concerns:
Kimberly wrote… “I was a miserable mess, who justified her actions by casting herself in the role of martyr. There were times when I would reflect on my actions and ask myself who is this mean spirited person? But then I’d wrap my misery and pain around me and soldier on; keeping my distance from others, shutting people out, and maintaining my cloak of separation, lest anyone discover my secret. No one could see that I was dying inside, and I only had myself to blame. I didn’t plan what happened next. I only knew that I had to act, to do something. Lost in a place so dark that I couldn’t reach myself, I stood in my bathroom, staring at but not seeing the image in the mirror. I was looking past me at someone I didn’t know.”
When I sheared off my hair, I revealed my most reviled flaw. My ears called out for attention. They called out to everyone that I had unmistakably and tragically changed. It was a cry for help that went unheard. Nobody came to my rescue. No one insisted on knowing what was wrong, or why I had made myself so ugly. No one sat me down and said that no matter how impossible life may appear, it is not the mistakes we make but the truth and integrity we employ in dealing with them that makes us grow. I had to learn this all on my own…”
Sheryl believes Kimberly’s artful and emotionally packed writing conveyed the angst and confusion of teenage years and early relationships full of love and beauty and fear and unexpected outcomes. Sheryl almost returned to her own experiences and the many mixed signals experienced from the adults in her life when she was 16 and life was so poignant and full of promise.
The stigma society attaches to the birth mother often harshly characterized as selfish women who don’t care about the kids they give up or as promiscuous or as troubled young women..Kim offers her honest and frank revealing look at birth mothers who often suffer alone and in silence. Reminds Sheryl of an interview she did with an author who worked with prisoners in the New York City jail system and he mentioned that the men had support from girlfriends and mothers but the women had few visitors and little support and were often single parents with many challenges… Sheryl felt so sad to hear that but knows it to be dead on right…so how can women build a circle of support for themselves and their children?
Kimberly became aware of the Hawaiian concept of Hanai. The word ‘hanai’ means to nurture. “In the old Hawaiian culture children were told they were shining bowls of light, put here to illuminate spirit’s greatness. All children were taken care of and loved. A child that was given by its parent’s to a trusted family member to raise was referred to as hanai. There is no shame or stigma attached to the term hanai, only love and acceptance. In modern times the term has grown to include close family friends, no matter their age. Kim has chosen to honor this ancient custom by embracing its overarching philosophies and sharing them with others through establishing a non-profit foundation..
The Hanai Foundation’s Mission Statement is ‘To honor nurturers and their families by supporting people and organizations that focus on individual wellbeing. Our long-term goal is to build a center where all are welcome to share their knowledge to ask questions and to build a strong family of relationships for all. The proceeds of Letting Go Again support this Hanai Foundation and its aims..
One day Kimberly received a letter from her daughter Kelcey and then the reunion was arranged. Kimberly and her daughter were challenged on almost every level by the difficult choices she made earlier in life. “There is no silence more palpable than the silence that occurs when there is simply nothing left to say.”
Sheryl says “In regard to healing and true love it can only be found within your own energetic force and connection to Universal energy…and from a belief that we are never alone and that the Universe and our connection to all life supports our continued evolution and personal growth through all our life experiences. Much like the Hanai foundation and their belief that we must all be responsible to care and nurture all people beginning with the children.”
Sheryl wrote in her book The Living Spirit…. “In one way or another, all interactions revolve around being able to extend past our fears and the fear of losing love so we can be more loving regardless of how the other person responds…the major reason a soul welcomes a physical life is to experience the giving and receiving of love…The giving of love may not necessarily include grand gestures: rather it is communicated through glances, words, music, undivided attention and concern, and the time invested in others. While this applies to romantic love it applies to all forms of attachment as well.”
What Kimberly wrote next made Sheryl remember her parents and how hard the last days were for them…… Kimberly wrote. “Dad was asleep in his bedroom, and Mom was in the family room, folding laundry as she watched the news on TV. As I walked through their kitchen, I noticed how tired Mom looked; sitting surrounded by several piles of clothes, as if she was being guarded by so many strategically placed sentries. Looking back, I see what I wasn’t able to see then. It was more than tiredness that was etched into Mom’s face as she sat amongst her neatly folded laundry; it was the look of someone crippled by what life had done to her. Mom was trapped, not only by Dad’s illness, but also by her own worn-out body. She was scheduled to have hip replacement surgery the following week with a doctor that she didn’t know. Her life was now difficult and full of uncertainty; the body that had once moved so fluidly and freely now stiffened with pain. So they say getting older physically is not for wimps..there are many joyful and positive reflections on one’s life but the physicality or deteriorating conditions for many older people is difficult.
Kimberly is the middle child in her family and as we know, certain roles or responsibilities are assigned to each child in the family and our childhood patterns do follow us throughout our life experience and influence all future relationships. Kimberly wrote “Like to go against the grain. Perhaps, this was because I’d watched my older siblings trying to buck the system. Their hard-fought fights usually resulted in nothing more than yelling, tension and disappointment. I learned that retreat was a much better strategy—no excitement, no drama. So, I simply kept my thoughts to myself, decided to be a good kid, and make my parents happy. At least, that’s the role that seemed to fall to me, and I made it my own: The helpful go-to kid who, like many middle children, received attention and approval from the family through laughter and compliance. Even so, that early feeling of separation impacted me deeply, and over the years that devastating feeling of not quite belonging coagulated thickly within my sense of being. Every so often I would apply a secret test. I’d hide myself away in our dark, dank shed and wait to see how long it would take before my family noticed I wasn’t around. It was kind of fun, sitting out there, eavesdropping on the family, listening to their curious dynamics. Sheryl responds,”They may have known you were there but your perception of that possibility was not accepted by you.
Kimberly and Sheryl have sought to understand the great capacity we have for love and healing no matter what others or our society deems to be practical or acceptable for everyone to adhere to. As unique soul beings who have our very personal soul journey and experiences to flow through in our continuing dance of life and love through relationships which last for a lifetime or lifetimes beyond this physical world each experience offers us opportunities for expanding our awareness of the highest Universal values of love compassion humility hope joy happiness and acceptance and surrendering to all events through which our personal growth is defined. Resilience and trying our best is what we can take away with us no matter how heartbreaking the results of any event are.”
Kimberly found a way for her spirit to express its creative force and wrote….. “When I moved away from the window I took up my pen and wrote about how I couldn’t wait for my life to start, not knowing, of course, how drastically a life can spiral out of control. As if taking a cue from the sudden changes outside, I declared my impatience with the process of growing up. Certain that my future would be more enchanting than intermediate school had been. I was tired of being a kid and having no say about my life. I wanted to hurry and grow up, to get to the part of my life where it got messy and entirely important. I do believe that was my last entry. I’m not sure what happened to that journal. I guess I simply threw it away. I would not return to writing entries in a journal until four years later, when those familiar themes of separation and loneliness returned to haunt me once again as a resident at a home for unwed mothers.”
“It was in the act of writing that I sought to unravel my thoughts and feelings in order to find where I had left myself, and discover who that self really was. One day I would light a match and destroy the journal that had become my closest companion, even though part of me wanted to keep it. It was a reminder, of where I had been, what I’d gone through, and how messy my life had become. But all of that was still in the future… a future, which I was impatient to start living.”
Kimberly and Sheryl would have you remember the past is but a doorway to our future and we are loved even though we may at times not love ourselves or understand why certain events are happening. There are as Shakespeare said “Reasons for everything in heaven and earth,” and seeing life as a journey of expansion and learning, we may find our greatest joy comes from the sorrow that helps us know we are human: anything is possible when we finally realize our enormous inner potential for love and self- growth We can only do our best and hope that forgiveness brings solace to us and those we love.