“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
This season, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has regularly featured some of today’s most interesting spiritual teachers and celebrities “on the path.” I regularly make time to watch episodes of her series, Super Soul Sunday. This past week I here and there, in the snippets of time I snatched, watched both Dr. Brene Brown, and an old personal favorite, Caroyn Myss, speaking to Miss O. about what I interpreted as telling, being, and living the Truth.
Dr. B. Brown spoke about “The Power of Vulnerability,” the topic of a June 2010 TED talk. With Ms. Winfrey, she spoke about that TED talk where she described her decade of research, thousands of stories, thousands of pieces of data that changed the way she lives and works. In a Tinkerbell nutshell, this is what she found: “In order for connection to happen, we have to be willing to be seen.” She found that those who believed what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. Dr. Brown’s research subjects expressed that they thought it was fundamental to be willing to be vulnerable even if in the end a relationship doesn’t work out. Or the ending of a particular scenario isn’t what they may have liked.
In that same week, I watched Oprah’s interview with medical intuitive Carolyn Myss, who, though not using the word vulnerable, in my mind, spoke about the same thing: allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to the tell the truth. She said, “We have an intuitive voice in us. … People hear when they have betrayed themselves. … It’s the voice of your gut instinct. … This is the part that says you should push, you should do this. … It will guide you.” And, she says, the voice will also tell you when you’ve done enough, all that you can.
Now then, what do Dr. B. Brown and Carolyn Myss and this particular week of my life have in common? The answer is–finally–the reason for this blog post. Without further ado, here I go …
Those of you who read my book, Finding Aster–our Ethiopian adoption story, will know that even prior to traveling to Ethiopia to bring our daughter home, my heart ached for the woman who gave her child away knowing she may never see her again. Those who know the beginning of our adoption story will also know that while at the U.S. Embassy finalizing the paperwork, the in-country representative to our American adoption agency verbally told us, and the embassy official behind the window, that Aster’s birth mother was dead. Prior to that moment, we believed, via the referral paperwork, that this nameless woman had been too sick and too poor to care for her child–but still alive.
To carry on with that start of the story, eight months after returning from Ethiopia, we discovered, quite by accident, that Aster’s birth mother was most certainly not dead. A sixteen year old recent Ethiopian adoptee who had lived with Aster in the small orphanage told me so. She did not know at that time that we had been told she was dead. She did not realize the incredible gift her simple words were: “Oh,” she had said. “You don’t know Aster’s birth date? Would you like me to ask her mother?”
Fast forward three years to September 2012 when my husband and I finally decided to follow a gut feeling and hire EthioStork to see if we could get some truth. Real, visual, verbal kind of truth, from She Who Is Not Dead, or Aster’s first mother, the one who gave her life. And so we did.
There will be many people at this point of the story who will angrily question my public post. There will be many moments when I too question this. Is this my truth to tell? What about the child who has no choice in my describing the details of what may appear to be her, and only her, story to tell? There will be huge moments when I will agree. Yet still, what about the others who also play a part in this one, huge story of lies and discoveries and exposures and choices to share or not to share? I star in this story, as does Aster’s first mother, and all the other people whom she calls, and will one day call, family, as well as the global family of adoption, and those who have been scarred by human trafficking, child harvesting, and selling babies in the name of staying alive–or buying a new iPad.
What about God?
To whom do I owe an allegiance? To whom shall I hold myself responsible? Who do I believe deserves the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as well as this particular truth at this particular moment, can be told? I do not have definitive answers. And yet, and yet … I must make myself vulnerable enough to be seen for the suffering that the lies have caused me too. This too is my story. I am also a mother. I am a daughter, and a human being, and a lover of all that is kind and respectful in this sometimes horrifically messed up place called earth with its masses of multitudes and miseries and beautiful aspects that I feel responsible to show. Always.
My gut instinct has guided me, Ms. Myss. It pushed and pushed me until I found more truth than I thought possible–or sometimes wanted. And then it came time to stop. Time to take a frightening breath into my soul and make myself vulnerable. Why now? It is only now that I know for sure what was done to those I love. Now because the world needs to know that sometimes children we fiercely love deserve to know that they were robbed of a birth right by those who wished to prosper from their despair. A birth right that screams you are not actually alone, that you were always loved and missed and no, my Lovey, your first mother is not dead. We now know this to be true. And you deserve to know.
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