Ever since 2009, when my daughter Jaqueline Nicole was born, my fiancée and I receive pictures on her birthday and for the holidays. Every year, my holiday pictures come like clock work on my birthday, December 22. This year, as I eagerly awaited my picture birthday gift, it did not come. I waited by that mailbox and nothing. In my mind, I started to think, what if Jackie’s parents forgot? What am I going to do? All these feelings flooded me and sent my whole “I’m okay” façade crashing and shattering to the ground.
There is no elaborate story as to why James and I made an adoption plan for our daughter. We were young, James had children already and I had buried my first child due to medical complications with me that caused Jordan to be born prematurely. I didn’t even know I was pregnant until it was too late. When I found out I was pregnant with Jackie, it was the same set of circumstances, excessive bleeding and incompetent cervix was what I was told and déjà vu was happening all over again. Selfish acts let me to this situation yet again and not fully recovered from my post-partum with Jordan, I knew I couldn’t take care of Jackie, nor would I subject her to living with a broken mother who was depressed, clueless and ashamed. So James and I made the decision to give her a fighting chance because we knew that it wasn’t with us. I had to be selfless, that is what I repeated to myself and to James. I loved my daughter, but began to build the wall of separation to help me deal. My grandma was really the only one I told about the adoption at that time. I couldn’t disappoint my parents again, and James felt the same, so this was our burden. We picked out an awesome set of parents for Jackie, and we lived for our pictures and letters. We saw she was smart, she loved pancakes, she was lively and fun, just like us. She looks like me and she acts like James. A perfect mirror image born of so many flaws and mistakes. She was my piece of heaven, even though she was far away.
So on that December day, when those pictures didn’t come, I was angry. I played it that I was angry that my pictures didn’t come, but God and I knew better. I was angry and filled with regret. I was filled with what ifs, especially since a month after Jackie was born, James and I found jobs, mine a management position. Live took an upwards turn and a year and a half later, Joshua, my son was born. I was blessed to be able to stay with him and raise him and see every single breath he took. He was thriving and smart, just like his big sis and I was sitting here wondering did I cheat myself. Did James and I cheat ourselves? Did we cheat our parents, who love Joshua so much, from loving Jackie? What had I done? I was doing well, got into my bible, started to restore my relationship with God, but late pictures dashed a year and a half worth of rebuilding and self restoration. That is when I realized, my foundation was not sturdy, God was making me rebuild on my truth, not the truth I tried to portray.
I am flawed and my heart is broken everyday because I miss my Jackie. They changed her name and I knew it would happen, but I felt it erased me, my essence, James’ essence. I am angry because we allowed ourselves to be so selfish, because all of my kids were conceived while on birth control, but that didn’t give us license to do what we wanted, we were not married, thus not covered under God’s hedge of care and protection. I was sad because all the moments I spend with my Joshua, I missed with Jackie. I am ashamed. I had to face all of this. I had told so many people I was okay and the commended me for my strength but I was crumbling daily inside. God literally ripped out the old foundation so that He could build in me a new one.
So here is how I feel today. I miss my daughter and sometimes I cry, but I rejoice because her parents let her know who we are. They share with her our letters and pics. Though her name may be changed, she can look in the mirror everyday and see her mother in her eyes, her bone structure all her facial features. She can feel her father when she laughs, when she eats those pancakes he loves so much or when she shows such care and love toward her friends and family because her father has such a big heart. She sees and feels the best of us every day and not because we place her with an adopting family, but because God placed her where He knew she would flourish. When I feel low, I talk to God and He sends His love to her through my tears and she knows she is loved by many, not by none. Though James and I feel sad, she is happy and thriving and healthy. One day God will allow her to come and ask us questions, but until that day, He sustains her through the wonderful parents He ordained her to be with. Our children are not our own. They are gifts from God. Sometimes when selfishness clouds our vision, our children pay and are delayed and sometimes not able to thrive because we suffocate them with our decisions, mistakes and regrets. But God unclouded our vision, He turned our selfishness into good for His daughter. He knew where and how to best take care of her and I am thankful we were obedient. We may not have gone about it the right way, because Jackie did not deserve to be our secret, but God still was and is able to continue to care for and be with our daughter without our mess. I am thankful that now James and I are able to really get it together and start living the life that God planned for us and when we see our daughter again, whenever He sees fit, she will see the awesome people God created us to be, not the broken people we made ourselves. After I allowed myself to feel all that I had repressed, sure as rain, those pictures came. I allowed myself to cry, my tears of missing her, some sad tears, but mostly happy tears because I saw in every picture she was smiling a joyous smile and I knew she was not just happy but filled with joy!
My hope for every birth father and mother is that they won’t beat themselves up. That they will allow their feelings to be felt, so that God can move and heal them. Then He can lead them on the path to their purpose so that on that day they are reunited with their child, whether for a minute, hour, or day, their child will know and see everything good in them reflected in their parents because of God. I am allowing myself to be healed, James is as well. No more facades, no more self medicating with vices, no more. Just healing, so we can be better and reflect the goodness in our daughter’s eyes.