Sunday, September 12, 2021

I Am A Grant Recipient


I am honored and thrilled to announce that I have received a Create! Arts Grant from On Your Feet Foundation.

I first discovered On Your Feet Foundation (OYFF) in 2008 after I’d reunited with my son Michael, who I’d placed for adoption in 1990. The complex rollercoaster of emotions that accompanied our reunion left me confused and in need of guidance. At the advent of Google, a search led me to OYFF as a service that offered post-placement support for birth parents, and despite living in Alaska and the inability to participate in their in-person support groups, I signed up for the newsletter and utilized their online educational resources.

Five years later, after the sudden, tragic death of my son, I found myself lost again and desperate for someone, anyone, who could understand. The sorrow of his passing twisted and morphed with the grief of relinquishment, creating layers of intense loss, regret, and guilt. I turned again to OYFF but was physically still too far away to benefit from in-person support and annual retreats. I never-the-less read each newsletter with a sense of hope that one day I would meet these amazing women.

Fast forward another six years to the onset of Covid-19, and suddenly OYFF was offering support groups online! I could finally attend! The liberation of speaking my truth far outweighed my initial fear of exposing my adoption journey.

These women understood.

I didn’t have to explain the trauma of permanently placing my child in the arms of another. Or how I felt unworthy of my son’s love or wished I’d tried harder to be with him; to know him. When I admitted to questioning the subtle coercion of the adoption agency or my confusion about the past, heads nodded in solidarity. And when I shared the joy of hearing his voice for the first time, and the warmth of his embrace, the tears of others reflected my own.

I’d seldom articulated my experience with adoption; I didn’t know how. My words always lumped in my throat, caught in a tangle of shame and self-loathing. But these women, they knew. They knew the ups and downs, the doubts of choices made, and the blessings that, at least for some, adoption could hold. And I’ve realized, finally, after more than 30 years, the power of shared experiences and unconditional acceptance, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

The women I’ve met through OYFF humble and astound me. They’ve navigated their grief and loss, and although sometimes they seem crushed by their feelings, they steadfastly pick themselves up. I have learned from them that by exposing my weaknesses I demonstrate my strength. They’ve modeled a commitment to reveal their greatest hopes and fears, which has made me braver and bolder than I ever thought possible.

I am honored to be a recipient of one of On Your Feet Foundation’s first Create! Artist Grants, which will be used in pursuit of publication of my memoir, Goodbye Again. I hope my story will serve to validate other birth parents’ experiences, shed light on the trauma of relinquishment while embracing the delicate and fragile dichotomy that is adoption.