It is 14h00, Tuesday, 10 November at Universitas hospital, Bloemfontein, South Africa. My mother, Greta Dreyer, is giving birth to me. There are no flowers or family members waiting anxiously in the hallway. My mother’s family does not know that she is pregnant. She is too afraid to tell them because it is 1981 and to be pregnant and unmarried is a disgrace. My father is not there to hold my mother’s hand – he is at his vintage car dealership, continuing his daily life which is looking peachy because his divorce is almost finalised and there is a new lover on the horizon. His affair with my mother is a distant memory.
Forty eight hours later, I am sleeping with clenched fists in a strange house among strange people and my mother is at the station with one suitcase and a box filled with books on her way to her new life in Johannesburg.
After the birth of my daughter, one of the first thoughts I had was: “How can you hand over a defenceless baby to strangers?” I decided to search for her to find answers to the mystery surrounding my existence. It was surprisingly easy to locate my birth records, although it only contained her name and the name she had given me. The social worker who assisted at the time made contact with her, but she declined to speak to me. In 10 years I have received two letters and three curt e-mails from her. She has made it clear that her current husband and three children do not know that I exist and that she has no intention of telling them. My messages have gone largely unanswered. Although I know almost everything about her, including her home address (approximately 40km from where I live). By and large we are strangers to each other and that is the way she prefers it.
Growing up, I imagined that someone must have forced her to give me away and that every year on my birthday she was thinking about me and wondering what I look like. I imagined that she was searching for my face in a crowd, as I was searching for hers everywhere I went. Turns out, she could not manage to work out what year or month I was born in. She asked me when my birthday was in one of the first letters she wrote, and I was devastated.
With the help of Sherrie Eldridge’s books and online support group, I started to examine how my adoption experience has governed my life. I have blocked out the pain and feelings of rejection, but these feelings had a way of coming to the surface when I least expect it. A seemingly insignificant thing like seeing a mother with her baby at the supermarket, or my partner with his family, would bring my simmering rage to the surface. After investigating my feelings and understanding the role that anger, fear and rejection has played in my life, I could find healing and inner peace instead of trying to pretend that I am fine with the situation.
I am convinced that God revealed several insights to me during my journey, of which one is that He expects me to make a decision to forgive her, as I had been holding on to resentment and anger towards her because I felt it unfair that she is allowed to go on with her life without facing any consequences for her actions. I realised that I will never stop searching for peace if I keep on searching in all the wrong places. Corresponding with her can be compared to banging my head against a brick wall repeatedly – no response, just pain. I do not have all the answers surrounding my birth (she has refused to tell me who my father is for instance), but I believe that God will reveal this information to me one day in His way. For now, I have found healing and comfort through God’s grace and understand that His grace extends to her as well.
I was not alone and defenceless the day they handed me over to my parents, because God, my “wingman” was there and my path was already mapped out by Him. My first purpose was to bring joy to a woman who wanted desperately to have children and was given the chance to be a mother to me. My second purpose is to live the live that God has mapped out for me before I was formed. I am alive and not going to waste it.
My name is LJ Jacobs. I am a 30 year old South African woman. I have a daughter. I work as a project manager at a construction company. After studying fine arts and French language studies, I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and follow a career in the civil engineering industry. I have three university degrees and have been admitted to a prestigious business school to commence my MBA studies in 2013. I enjoy reading and playing the violin and have a passion for all types of music. I received a black belt in karate earlier in 2012, an achievement that has been on my bucket list since school days. By the time this blog is published, I will have already gone on an elephant safari in the African bushveld (another item on my bucket list) for my birthday to celebrate the woman that I have become, not in spite of, but because of, my adoption experience.