Recalculating the Grays

Me, in my plane, coming back form the adoptee rights deomnstration

Personal Musings on Destiny and Adoption

The feeling did not hit me until the plane was beginning to taxi down the runway.

Perhaps because I had just been all too busy this year as the go-to person making many of the decisions, organizing the troops on the ground, it was not until I was on my way home, that I could begin to relax and really feel. Finally, all I had to do was sit and wait, traveling through the skies, back to my own normal life left behind a week before. And so, through my oval airplane view, I watched Atlanta fade and let out a deep breath. Everything was done that could have been done and for the most part gone off without a hitch. I was on my way home from my favorite, most sleep deprived, week of the year.

That was when I felt it; the incredible sense of power, hope and purpose that comes from knowing, that somehow, some way, little old me was really doing my part to change the world.

At the same moment that I relished that feeling, I hated it. The second, I felt that I was doing exactly what I should have been doing, I wished I was on a different path.  The confidence that I have found my true calling in life makes me curse the God’s that placed me here. I wonder in amazement that I am living a life of value and then I shudder with dread. In two seconds, I can be so sure, and then all at once wish more than anything else that I was lost in bland life of mediocrity. It’s my almost daily struggle as a birthmother.

Looking at Life as a Birthmother; All Gray

I have never been able to see things in black and white. My opinions are as mercurial as the tides. I know I am too trusting, too believing, to hopeful, to understanding  to stand sure in my points of view. A good argument, more information and my life GPS starts saying “recalculating, recalculating.”  The growth is a blessing,  the changing tides often a curse. Not for the first time, and I hardly expect the last, I think back to the wise words of the divine David Byrne, “Well, how did I get here?”

I do know how it started. One determined spermatozoa, one ripe egg, one foolish thought, one answered phone call and the dominoes of life began to fall.

There it begins, the conflict, the struggle; how I can simultaneously love where I am and hate that I am here; on an airplane, coming back from the Adoptee Rights Demonstration and national lobby efforts in Atlanta, loving what I do, knowing I did it well, and hating that adoption brought me here.

The Path to a Life with Adoption loss

I was 18 when I became pregnant in 1987. My child’s father a man who was never marriage material for me. My mother too involved in her own vicious divorce and raising my brother 12 years my junior to take on another trouble caused by my rebellious self. My education still lacking. My finances nonexistent. Pulling the name of a sweet little adoption agency from the New York City Yellow Pages seemed like the answer to all that plagued me.

They were kind, they were concerned, and to the nice people at the agency my pregnancy was not a major life catastrophe. I represented a chance to give a gift to kind strangers that prayed and hoped for a girl just like me, in a situation just like mine. I sent myself away so I wouldn’t have to feel the disapproving scorn of my mother. So I would not have to hide and cower from family and friends as she so desired after saying those lines we only think to hear in movies  “what will the neighbors think.” I couldn’t wait to be within the adoption agencies soft protective embrace. On another plane, but feeling very different.

If I was a black and white type of girl, then the relinquishment of my son to adoption months later would have stayed white and pure. I would have been able to stand proudly upon the birthmother pedestal, so carefully constructed,  for the rest of my days. As it was, I could only stay safe for the first decade or so, parroting what I had been taught to say, boasting of “no regrets“, singing songs of my child “better off”. Alas, enter in the computer age and the internet with all its trappings of communication.  New teachings about adoption realities bit at my heels.  A mold of dark truths began to climb up on my perch. Other mothers who relinquished and adoptees known and loved popped my bubbles and my internal GPS sang again.

Recalculating, Recalculating

I never set out to be a birthmother. No little girl thinks to herself “I want to be a birthmother”. I would hope  the idea that one day she shall grow up to make living beings for other people and try to survive the wreckage would seem like the tragedy it is.  But I also never set out to be an activist either. I never cared to help other people. I was never a joiner, a volunteer, even a girl who played team sports. I never set out to change the world. I never imagined that my greatest desires, my biggest hopes, my finest honors would be as part of this collective, this incredible diverse group of humanity, that I lovingly now call AdoptionLand.

How did I get here indeed?

Or perhaps the real question is how to I resolve the conflicts that I see swarming in a sea of gray?

At one end, is the loss of my son. Clearly, I say now “it was the biggest mistake of my life”. Not the relationship with his father, not the failed birth control, not the pregnancy, not giving birth; but the act of willingly believing that adoption would allow us both to go on with life unhithered. This, of course, allowed me to make the final damning choice to relinquish my rights to motherhood. The act of relinquishment, the entrance of adoption in my life, is cast in black. No question here about the shade. Like a acrid smoke that slithers under doors, finds every crack in the foundation, clings to highest peaks; the darkness of adoption settled like a pressing fog upon all things it touched, all things in my life, hence.

Yet, there is a light that comes from within now, a pure shine around so many. I call it “adoption’s silver lining” and it is exactly that. If it was not for adoption; I would not be writing, I would not be here, I would not know you, you would not read me. If it wasn’t for adoption,  the simple fact is , I would not be on the plane. I would not have dear friends and colleagues that I love and respect. I would not be doing this work that I love so much to do. As much as I despise the act that brought me here, I manage to utter words that do not often cross my lips; I am blessed, I am honored, I am grateful. And this from a girl who has long spurn the church and all the holy trappings, do I dare mention the words I fear the most?  Was it destiny that lead me along this path?

Doing what I do best...I cannot imagine doing anything better with my life. I cannot think of a more important cause to focus on. I cannot believe that there is something else that I would be better off doing. And bigger than all that, I cannot believe that, collectedly, all our energies, all our hopes, all our work is not truly making a difference in so many people’s lives. I am awestruck. I am empowered. I feel like Margaret Mead and Eleanor Roosevelt and Anne Frank rolled all in one. Or at least like I am good enough to be able to hang out with them once, or maybe twice, for tea, or maybe to fetch their dry cleaning. Or maybe, sometimes, worthy enough that they would give me a knowing nod and perhaps a pat on the head? Is it in my head, I think ? (recalculating!)  Are these visions of grandeur? Is it a higher purpose? Is it a calling, for I am so compelled to give this fight my all? Dare I wonder, is it divine?

Is the Life Meant for Me?

And then, if so, does not that not mean that I am exactly where I am supposed to be? Did I have to cause that first domino to fall or else, there is no way I would be here? Did I have to lose my child and my child lose his family so that I would be driven to do this work, speak these truths, be so public, carry this weight?

That is not a position that I believe any kind and loving God’s can make. Again, no church, so blind faith is not my strong suit, just more recalculating, more gray, conflicted again. For I know, more of the scarce pure blacks in my life exist right here;  I dislike intensely the roll of destiny and the divine intervention in adoption. Accepting a belief that my son was not meant to be with me just does not compute, so how can I accept the feeling s that come from believing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be?

One side dark, one side light; swirling in the middle, drowning thoughts in gray. I am tired, oh so tired, and on the plane, coming home.

Recalculating, recalculating.


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About the Author

Claudia Corrigan DArcy
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has been online and involved in the adoption community since early in 2001. Blogging since 2005, her website Musings of the Lame has become a much needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding. She is also an activist and avid supporter of Adoptee Rights and fights for nationwide birth certificate access for all adoptees with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Besides here on Musings of the Lame, her writings on adoption issue have been published in The New York Times, BlogHer, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Adoption Constellation Magazine,, Lost Mothers, Grown in my Heart, Adoption Voice Magazine, and many others. She has been interviewed by Dan Rather, Montel Williams and appeared on Huffington Post regarding adoption as well as presented at various adoption conferences, other radio and print interviews over the years. She resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Rye, children, and various pets.

2 Comments on "Recalculating the Grays"

  1. See, that’s one of the joys of being Lokean; I know God is anything but good. It’s also one of the reasons I’ve been coming to the same conclusion over recent months myself (recently likened us bunch of adoption shouters to Emmeline Pankhurst & co.). If it was only the quiet and the shy and the fearful that this was happening to, then nothing’d change at all ever. It’s only because our chorus of voices (adoptees, bfam’s, afam’s) are slowly building into what I hope one day becomes a deafening crescendo that I can keep going sometimes, in the hopes that they’ll change things just to shut us up.

    Sadly, I don’t think we’ll live to see the day that it changes enough that most’ve us even complete haters can live relatively comfortable with it, but I’m hoping our g-g-grandkids might.

  2. Well said and completely agree with the constant struggle and conflict of this thing called life. It’s hard enough but throw adoption in and it gets so complicated. I’m at war with myself a lot times, many up and down days, I look back and convince myself it was the right thing to do. Then I hang out with my son and think to myself if I didn’t surrender him then I wouldn’t be going through this right now. I applaud you for letting your passion take you down the road of activist. I wish I could do the same, but don’t have the energy or time right now. I’m tired of living with conflicted emotions all the time. But you’re doing something about it and I guess you could say things happen for a reason, but at what cost? I’m sure if we can go back in time we’d rather keep our babies knowing what we know now. It’s easy to feel saddened by what led you here but I hope you reward yourself for what you’re doing,

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