A Thank you to Jigsaw's Mother's Group
"I sat in the first meeting and discovered their pain and feelings mirrored my own. For the first time in 18 years I could communicate openly. Women of all ages shared the same pain and loss. When I spoke there were nods around the room...I knew then, I had come home."
At 15 I discovered I was pregnant. I loved my boyfriend but wasn’t looking forward to telling him or my parents. We planned to tell them Sunday morning. My boyfriend was sleeping in the downstairs bedroom but before he could get up, my very intuitive father had guessed and took a shotgun to him. Fortunately, sense prevailed and we all sat down to talk. Although not a staunch Catholic, abortion was not for me. We decided to keep the baby. My16th birthday, three weeks later, was a very strained affair.
It wasn’t long before we had set up house and were ‘playing’ happy families but unlike fairy tales there wasn’t going to be a ‘happily-ever-after’. Standing on my feet for eight hours a day at a check out did nothing for my blood pressure or varicose veins and I gave up work at 30 weeks. About two weeks later, after being home for 13 hours-a-day by myself, everyone else was either at school or working, I guess I must have become a bit clingy. It was at this time that my boyfriend decided we should give the baby up for adoption. I was devastated. I gave him the silent treatment for three days and spent a lot of that time alone – pondering my child’s future. I knew I could make a good mother, but if his father was withdrawing his support, what future could I offer my child. My parents both worked full-time, most of my friends were still in school or working full-time themselves.
I made the decision to give my child up for adoption. We stayed together for another couple of years but it wasn’t long before our loss wedged between us and we separated. I carried my loss around me with a harsh, stern anger.
I went into an abusive relationship as I believed I didn’t deserve anything better and second best was better than nothing. Fortunately with some loving friends I turned my thinking around and left. It wasn’t too long before I met my husband and married a year later. Within the year I was pregnant and I was over the moon, but 10 weeks later I miscarried. Once again I was devastated.
It was about this time, 1992, that I learnt the adoption laws had changed and it was possible, if all parties agreed, for birth parents and adoptive parents to write to each other. After some enquiries I discovered there had been a letter waiting for me for 2 years. The same month and year my brother suicide, my son’s family and I became part of a pilot program. We corresponded from when he was 7 through to 18.
It was Michael’s (my birth name for him) eighteenth that bought me to Jigsaw's Mother's Support Group. I had so many feelings and emotions that I had no control over.
I went to that first meeting believing I didn’t belong there because I wasn’t forced to give up my child for adoption, like I believed most of the other women were. Therefore, I wasn’t worthy of feeling any sense of loss or pain. These other women at the meeting were far more worthy than I was.
In my eyes I was once again second best but I sat in the first meeting and discovered their pain and feelings mirrored my own. For the first time in 18 years I could communicate openly. Women of all ages shared the same pain and loss. When I spoke there were nods around the room … I knew then, that I had come home.
Over the next two years I religiously attended Saturday monthly meetings. I learnt many, many things with the love, support and guidance of these women, but mainly from the Jigsaw facilitator Jenny. She once said to us, “Reunion does not cure adoption!”. But I was a classic case. I of course knew better and that it did, it must do. But once again I learnt the hard way and Jenny’s words came back to me many times.
I haven’t been to a group meeting in nearly two years as in the last 18 months I have suffered five losses. My husband, my marriage, my home and my grandmother and the last and the hardest loss, my beloved father, one month ago.
Throughout this entire time, the one thing that helped me cope was the work that I’d done with Jenny and the mother’s group at Jigsaw. Dealing with my adoption issues of grief and loss helped me enormously to cope in what I can only describe as a horrendous two years.
My issues with Michael have taken second place. At 22 he has issues and priorities of his own and unfortunately I don’t seem to be one of these. So once again, ‘I have come home’ to the loving embrace that is Mothers (Group Meetings).