The “Unwanted” Me

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I mentioned previously how much we love the new NBC show “This is Us.” It returns tonight from its winter hiatus and cliff-hanger. (Toby!!!) The show hits on some very real subjects such as pregnancy loss, adoption, truth in relationships, obesity, blended families and more. My Mom and I love it. I sincerely hope the writers can keep it honest and true for the rest of the season and years to come.

During one of the last episodes before the break, Randall, one of the three kids, was getting high on ‘shrooms (accidentally) and was exploring the truths and lies about his life as an adopted son, searching for his biological father and fighting through his abandonment issues. It rang so true to me as someone who is adopted but also as someone who has struggled to know their true place in the world, in their family.

This is what Randall said to a hallucinatory vision of his deceased father:

“I was a replacement for your dead baby, that’s all I’ve ever been,” Randall said to the vision of Jack, his father. “I spent my life striving for perfection. You know why, Dad? Because I live in fear that if I let up for a moment, I will remember that I am unwanted. And then what’ll happen to me?”

I remember feeling that exact same way as Randall for most of my life, thinking those same thoughts. Deep in my heart and my rational mind, I know I have always been loved by my biological mother, Liza, as well as my adoptive family. However, there’s always that little piece of me that felt unwanted. I know now after talking with her that she wanted me to have a better life than she thought she could provide as a young college-aged woman. My adopted parents tried their hardest to give me everything I wanted, and even when they couldn’t, my brother John would say “yes.” I know I am loved, I have no doubt of that. I don’t want it to sound like I’m ungrateful. I have had a wonderful life and I had a safe, fun childhood. Yet, there was something missing and I could never put my finger on it so I strived to do my best in school, work and every aspect of my life to impress my family at every chance, like I was winning some sort of prize for their love and affection.

As I’m older now and have had more time to reflect, I think that gaping hole of rejection and loss has to do with my biological father.

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A Grandmother’s Story: Dear Chrissie

I’ve been struggling to write this holiday season. I have a bunch of posts that are half-written random streams of consciousness. Hopefully, I’ll have something to post before year-end. I’ve also been taking a reprieve from social media the past few weeks to reset my brain and help with saying goodbye to 2016. In the meantime, Mom is here today with a new post to take us into Christmas this weekend.  -Christina


Christmas is a few days away. Many families are hurrying to finish their last-minute decorating, shopping and baking. Some kids are mailing their “Dear Santa” letters in hopes that their special toy will be under the Christmas tree. In many homes, families are watching traditional television classics such as “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “Scrooge”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “The Christmas Story”. (The latter is one of my favorite movies).

Another yearly tradition that you begin to see on television are our military personnel in surprising reunions with their families. Whether these reunions are depicted in a commercial or shared during a newscast, they are heart-warming and make you realize how precious family are. These are the times when I think most of you, Christina, and a grandson, taken so early. This is why it would be apropos to write this blog to my daughter because there’s nothing more important to me right now but my Chrissie!

During my pregnancy with Christina, my OB-GYN thought I was going to have a boy. When she arrived, it was a different story. Originally, I had thought of the name “Christopher” because of Warren Christopher, the former U.S. Secretary of State. He was instrumental in securing the freedom of 52 Americans hostages in Iran in the 1980s. At the time, I lived in Milwaukee and one of those hostages was a Wisconsinite. I recall several people tied yellow ribbons around trees to signify support of their release. I drove my parents nuts when I decided to tie a yellow ribbon around a newly planted birch tree in our front lawn.

Early on during the pregnancy, I had told my adopted mother that I was going to name my baby after Warren Christopher. Of course, it truly was a different outcome when you arrived and they handed you to me. So, when the doctor asked what name to give you, “Christopher” became “Christina”. I was still very adamant that I was keeping the name “Chris”, but I simply called you, “Chrissie”.

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Me and my Mom, I think around 1983. This photo was taken at my “happy place”, Walt Disney World, as we were waiting for a parade.

To my precious Chrissie,

Thanksgiving has come and gone. We survived! Life goes on. I was relieved to see the wonderful turkey and all the fixins’ you and Brett made. You have been making strides during these couple of months.

Now, it’s Christmas.

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I’m a Bad Daughter

I’ve been a bad daughter lately.

Let me step back…

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My Dad, Joe; me; and my brother, John, at my grad school commencement from Emerson College in May 2007.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m adopted. My Mom, Liza, shared some of her insight about why she decided to put me up for adoption in one of her previous posts. An uncle and his wife adopted both my mom and I, so I was raised essentially calling my mom, my “sister.” She moved to California when I was still pretty young, I think maybe 5 or 6 years old. We didn’t see each other much, maybe every few years or so. Upon talking with her and reading her reflections about our relationship, I now have a slightly better understanding of why we had such a distant relationship for so long. It wasn’t until recently, that we’ve become closer and  I started referring to her as “mom,” which is a completely different post for another day.

My adoptive parents – Joe and Dona – were great. Just much older. They already had grown children. My “youngest” brother, John, and I are 18 years apart. He’s like my second dad. My Dad was born in 1930 and my Mom in 1924. So…if I do the math right…they were 51 and 57 when I was born. Mom would always tell the story about the judge who did the adoption. He commented that, “Why would someone your age want to adopt a child?” She always said that they didn’t believe she was that old and they took 10 years off her age on the adoption papers. Don’t know if that’s really true or not…

Mom died back in 2001. I was 20 and a sophomore in college. My dad, who is the youngest of 13 kids, is still going at 86. He lives in a senior home back in the hometown that I grew up in.

Now, we can get into why I’m a bad daughter…

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A Grandmother’s Story: Letting Go and Moving Forward

Today, my mom returns with more about her story as Emmett’s grandmother. Read the first part here. -Christina

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Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.

I read this quote by C.S. Lewis on Pinterest. Although there’s some debate whether or not Lewis actually said this, it really hit the nail for me. One because I’m terrible at monkey bars and two, “letting go at some point in order to move forward” is so true. It takes a lot of effort in life to move forward. You have to dig deep, stretch hard, use every ounce of strength and have stamina. This is where I’ll continue telling the story how Emmett blessed my life the short time he was with us.

In one of Christina’s previous posts, she shared a story and sketch by Curtis Wiklund’s struggle about miscarriage. He wrote:

“Most don’t talk about it. I just didn’t know what else to do, but draw on that day….I hope by sharing it, those others out there who are quietly hurting, some far worse than we are, are comforted knowing at least, that you are not alone.”

Some of us have probably experienced situations in our lives that make us ashamed, embarrassed or frightened, yet we choose not to share them. This is why Wiklund’s sketch and what he said resonated with me. We all go through trials and some people suffer silently. You don’t have too!

In my previous post, I also shared that Christina and I share a very unique bond.

That is as “mother and sister”. As a young single mother attending nursing school, I found myself balancing school and caring for a premature baby, it was difficult. I felt guilty, ashamed and unequipped as a young parent. I suffered quietly as Wiklund did. I wanted a better home-life for Christina so I made a difficult decision to give her up for adoption. Fortunately for me, unlike so many young single women, she was adopted by the same family that adopted me.

I could never compare the loss of a child or a death of a child to giving up a child for adoption. Death is so final and often unexpected, tragic. Once Christina was adopted, out of respect for her new parents, I no longer referred to her as “my daughter.” She became my sister. All the feelings as a mother, I internalized. When I got married and moved away, the feeling of “loss” worsened for me. The loss of missing birthdays, the first day at school, proms, graduations, etc. all the milestones….Lost. It was unbearable! I cried often. I also found my car as a safe haven, just as Wiklund’s sketch demonstrated. I was alone.

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