My Birthmother Connection
I was adopted as a newborn, and for the past 55 years I have longed to fill the hole in my life with my birthmother’s love. Growing up as an only child in a home that was happy but not particularly nurturing, I yearned to find the woman who so courageously gave me to another mother, always wondering if she thought of me on my birthday, if she spoke of me to others, if I had siblings. These feelings intensified after I had my own children, as I realized the anguish she must have endured walking away from the newborn she named “Mellanie.”
Twice in the past 20 years I have spent considerable time and energy searching for Suzy Dodd. Both times God prevented the reunion, and I have come to accept that He is in control of the situation. I may never know her personally, but recently a week spent soul-searching in communion with God brought a peaceful knowing that though unseen, she has always been here with me.
Last November at a beautiful retreat in California, one program was the icing on the cake. “Masters of Manifestation” was a time to turn inward and connect with God and His purpose for my life. Much of the week was spent journaling, with an ample stock of art supplies always available. We were often told to “Go to the art,” when facing a challenge or blocked emotions. I had never experienced letting my hands freely create what my mind directed, and was surprised when a white bird emerged through the watercolors. Who was this bird, and what role would it play in my week?
A vital part of digging deep is clearing the past, letting go of hurts, and forgiving. In our first journaling exercise, I sat on the back porch of my room bathed in warm sunlight, allowing myself to imagine a place of solitude. Alone on the beach of Oahu, I saw her—that beautiful white bird soaring through the sky. She landed next to me, and what happened next was a catharsis of words, pouring from my mind and soul so quickly I could scarcely capture them.
That bird was my birthmother, Suzy. She told me how much she loved me, how she had watched me from a distance all my life, and how proud she was of me. She assured me that she always remembered my birthday, that she held me in her heart just as I had kept her in mine, and that I was free to move forward knowing that she was smiling on my life. I felt an enormous sense of peace and forgiveness as our time together ended. She loved me and hadn’t forgotten me. I could move on.
Throughout the rest of the week, that beautiful bird took on different personas during my quiet times. One time it was Faith, one was Self-Acceptance, and finally it was God. Each time I wrote, I created a new watercolor with the white bird, free-flowing and abstract, but growing more defined along the way. In the final piece, a powerful image emerged, this time in acrylics. My bird was soaring in a vivid blue sky, a regal air about her. Her wings were strong, the strokes directed through my hand imbuing her with exquisite beauty. In her softness, she had been my birthmother Suzy, and in her powerful beauty she was God telling me to rise above the heavens with His support and grace. I was free to go forward, knowing that the past was there not to haunt me but to give me strength.
It is amazing what can happen when the logical brain steps aside and lets creativity take over. God speaks in powerful messages through writing and art, if we allow Him to take control. If you need to reconcile your past, forgive, or move on from a hurt that you’ve been carrying around, spend time writing. Or “Go to the art” and let Him speak through the strokes of a brush. Experience your own catharsis and the freedom to soar through the heavens with the lightness of a beautiful white bird.
Susan Tolles is the founder of www.flourishover50.com.