The longing to belong is a powerful motivator in relationships. It can spur us on to reconnect abandoned relationships, as we see in today’s episode of an adult adoptee finding her birth mother.
In today’s episode we finish the interview with Gail Rohde we started in episode 29. Our conversation with Gail is based on the premise that everyone has a story, and the more we know the story of others, the deeper our relationship can be with them. If you haven’t listened to episode 29 yet it would be better to stop now and listen to it. Then come back to this episode. It will make more sense to you if you do.
Gail’s story is more than just an interesting account of how being adopted played an important role in shaping her life and making her the woman she is today. It’s a story that illustrates some important relationship principles that we can all learn from, whether we’re adopted or not.
So assuming you’ve listened to part 1 of our interview with Gail, you may recall she talked about growing up knowing from a very early age she was adopted. Gail talked about her childhood as being a great one, with very loving and wise parents who openly talked about her adoption.
While Gail was raised by these loving adoptive parents, she was still curious from time to time about her origin. Where did I come from? What was my birth mother like? Why did she give me up for adoption? This missing piece of her own life-story made her wonder at various times while growing up.
On several occasions her parents tried to help Gail locate her birth mother, but to no avail. And then another time, Gail decided she didn’t want to contact her birth mother if she was found, for fear of being rejected a second time. “I didn’t want a door slammed in my face again. That would have been too painful,” Gail said.
It wasn’t until she started having children of her own did her latent curiosity rise to the surface again. Through encouragement from her husband, Gail sent in DNA samples to Ancestry.com and 23andMe, hoping that maybe her birth mother would have done the same. And that is where we pick up the interview today. Listen in.
What an encouraging and uplifting story, that at the same time illustrates several key relationship principles. I mentioned some of them in part 1 of the interview. There are more that I picked up in this episode
The first one that comes to mind for me is the role her husband played. Let’s see, we’ll call him Mike…..because that is really his name. Mike Rohde. For Christmas or her birthday, he gave Gail an Ancestry.com testing kit, then another from 23 and Me. It was his way of encouraging his wife to deal with the angst and mystery of the events surrounding her birth. Sometimes we need people in our life to encourage us, and help us move us off dead center. Way to go Mike. You raised the bar for all of us.
A second principle I learned is that Gail did something to deal with her angst. She could have continued the rest of her life feeling like a victim. A victim of a mother who abandoned her. But Gail didn’t. She wasn’t like one of those people we all know who do nothing to deal with a problem because they find greater comfort in being the recipient of injustice.
Another principle I see in play in Gail’s story is leaning into her pain, rather than running from it. She was given up for adoption on her birthday, which made that occasion a painful one. “I was abandoned on my birthday, “ she said. But then when she connected with her birth mother, a whole new light was shed on WHY her mother gave her up for adoption.
Gail saw it has her mother protecting her from shame. She realized how painful this was for her birth mother. And with this, she sees her birthday, her birth mother, and her life in a whole new light.
Gail said something along the lines of “When you don’t know the other person’s story it’s easy to become inward focused. Now that I know her story, it is so much less about me, and so much more about her and the turmoil SHE was going through, and what she had to do to give me a life she couldn’t provide, and the sacrifice she made…”
What a great way Gail now looks at what used to be a painful reflection. I don’t know about you, but her attitude inspires me to do what she did with my own set of problems.
And then there was the sharing of this good news with Gail’s adoptive mother in the memory care facility. I loved her mother’s reaction to Gail’s joy, when she said to Gail, “All those years we looked and looked, and now you found her. I’m so excited for you.” Gail’s mom was rejoicing with Gail. It’s rare to see this.
It made Gail free to pursue a relationship with her birth mother without any tension in her relationship with her adoptive mom. Without saying the words, this was a great gift of permission Gail’s adoptive mother gave her. Sometime the best thing we do for people is to give them permission. To remove any barriers so they can experience freedom in what they want to pursue.
When I asked Gail where she saw God involved in all this, I loved her response when she said she saw God in EVERYTHING. I loved how she said she wants to use this reuniting with her birth mother to glorify God. We all need to do the same thing in our relationships, whether adoption is involved or not.
And finally, the last principle I learned from Gail, particularly in her advice at the end to adoptive parents and adoptees, is something I need to mull over because I think it’s rather profound. And it’s this:
Feeling a part of something is more important than feeling loved
These are my words, not Gail’s. It’s my take on her story. Gail felt loved as a child, but not always part of something. We all long to feel part of something.
Before I close, here’s the he main take-away from today’s episode, our show in a sentence
With God’s help, and in his timing, there is joy to be found in pursuing a relationship with someone who gave up on us for reasons we don’t understand.
Here’s an action you can take in response to today’s show
Who in your past abandoned you for reasons you didn’t understand when it happened? Could now be the time to revisit that relationship? To purse that person, and to consider the possibility that it might have been just as painful for them? Could it be that God will help you do this, so in the end you will have more joy, and he will get more glory?
Relationship Quote of the Week
This comes from Gail Rohde herself when she said,
When you don’t know the other person’s story it’s easy to become very inward focused. ~ Gail Rohde
Closing Thank you for joining us today. As I mentioned in last week’s episode, If you know adoptive parents or an adult adoptee, please share this episode with them. I think they’ll find it helpful, as would others who may be dealing with difficult relational issues from the past.
And above all, remember what you were made for. You were made to experience life-giving, fulling relationships. We’re here together to learn how. See you next week. Bye for now
Resources mentioned in today’s show
Episode 029_An Adoption Relationship Story - Part 1