Birth mom and guest blogger, Lorri, shares her adoption story:
She was born in November, 39 years ago. She was gorgeous, with dark hair and perfect Gerber Baby lips. All the birth attendants commented on what a stunning baby she was. I named her Aimee Elizabeth because it meant “a beautiful gift from God.” I spent three days in the hospital gazing into her eyes as she lay on my lap. And then I walked out of the hospital without her.
That was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. And while there were very bad moments after that, times of grief and sadness, I managed to keep living and keep moving forward. Our closed adoption journey is well-documented in my first adoption book, To Have And Not To Hold, but today I want to focus on the beautiful and inspirational relationship I have with my daughter today. I want people to know there is light at the end of that very dark tunnel.
The Greatest Day
When my birth daughter was 16, she wanted to meet me and my family. In fact, one of the big factors in her desire to meet was after seeing the first picture of her half-sisters, my three daughters. She and her adoptive mom flew to our home, and that emotional weekend is forever etched in all of our favorite memories. It was the beginning of the blending of our two families into one.
While Aimee, now christened Kate, began to discover each of her sisters, her mom and I began to deepen the relationship that had begun in our anonymous letters to each other over the sixteen years. We felt like we were already best buds, and that bond grew quickly from that first reunion day. And that night, my husband, the best of men, took Kate and her mom, and eventually her dad and sister, into his heart and his life.
Since that incredible weekend, many events and much time together have cemented my relationship with my birth daughter, and our relationships with each other’s families. We marvel at how blessed we are that we managed to easily tread what could have been very tricky waters, and to forge true familial ties between us all.
Over the years, we’ve been each other’s support through good times and bad. We began visits with each other, and took vacations together. We were there to support her family when her adoptive dad tragically passed away from early-onset Alzheimer’s. She hopped on a plane to be with us when our oldest daughter made a snap decision to forego a big wedding for a simple ceremony on the beach. And when it was her turn to marry, our group was included in the “immediate family only” ceremony and festive family dinner.
The most impressive time was the summer after our reunion. My parents had planned a big Colorado reunion with our entire family. We invited Kate, who gamely accepted, and came on her own at age 17. I think back now and wonder over the courage she showed to spend a week with a bunch of “strangers,” meeting aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents she didn’t know. Thank goodness for her innate curiosity and open nature, which overcame any fears she might have had. It was an amazing week, and my whole family fell in love with this daughter who came late back into our lives.
Over the years, Kate’s adoptive mom has welcomed us as a branch of the family with love and acceptance. She happily allowed me to share grandparenting duties when “our daughter” became a mom. And one of the true blessings of our story is the bond Kate has with my three daughters. They are all close, with their own very unique relationship. For example, my youngest, whose plans to travel this year were blown apart by Covid, just spent the summer with Kate, managing the kids while Kate and her husband figured out working from home. I love the way our family has blended together like a beautiful tapestry.
That terrible moment when I left the hospital without my baby will never be forgotten. But when I look at her life, my life, and the lives of our families, I can’t help but think there was a plan, and somehow we have all been enriched by that plan. I know not every adoption results in one big happy family. I know there are also outcomes that are less than ideal, even downright tragic. But I also know it can work. I know it every time I look at my “beautiful gift from God,” our daughter.
Lorri Antosz Benson is a two-time Emmy-Award-winning television producer, writer, author and former internationally syndicated columnist. Notably, she was the Senior Producer for DONAHUE, the acclaimed show hosted by the legendary Phil Donahue.Benson has written three books, two on adoption. Her latest book, Adopting Hope, is a tremendous resource for any parent, but especially for those in the adoption world. It is a collection of stories, lessons learned, and words of wisdom from birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees from all over the country. This book follows To Have And Not To Hold, her memoir as a birth mother, the first in a series of three books for those involved in adoption. Benson is Founder and CEO of Family Matters, her family advocacy organization. She also maintains a blog for empty nesters, Feathering My Empty Nest at www.FeatheringMyEmptyNest.tumblr.com. She and her husband Steve reside in Santa Monica, Calif. and have four children and five grandchildren.