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Public Apology To My Daughter

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It is far more powerful to live your truth than to preach it. --Rasha

On March 29, 2012 Huffington Post published an article that I wrote in late January in which I intimately describe an incident involving my daughter. The contents depict an experience that included addressing the issue of "birth mother," and the emotional process we went through that particular afternoon.

The lag time between writing and publishing occurred for a very good reason: I didn't feel 100% about making this personal experience available to the public. When I re-read the article days before submitting it to the Huffington Post blog team, I still felt some reservations. However, I also felt that the "formula" that I describe therein could be beneficial to others who struggle with similar emotional situations they encounter with preschoolers.

One comment that I received from a HuffPost reader:

Furthermore, why are adoptive parents discussing their children's private moments in public settings? Please, I urge you to respect your child's privacy and stop telling their stories for your own personal profit.

Though I totally disagree that my intent was for "personal profit," I do agree with this reader that the time has come to pull back and stop allowing my family to be the target of what can be a society of voyeurs. It is obvious to me now that rather than appreciate the way I have exposed some tough situations over which we have triumphed, many readers have been left feeling violated. For this, and for having my daughter viewed as having been violated by her mother, I truly apologize.

I received my Masters Degree in Biography/Autobiography (Goddard College, 1998) and as a Writer's Coach (www.DinaWolff.com) I have facilitated dozens of people with the process of writing their life story. I wholeheartedly believe that the best way to learn how to live a more authentic life, one that is fueled by passion, honesty, emotional freedom and spiritual awakening, is to learn how others have done it.

Another reader posted this comment:

Wonderful. it's so hard for those outside of the adoption triangle to fully understand the complex whirling vortex of emotions that make up our lives. Essays like this help every reader to have a better grasp of this world.

I do understand that a reader comes with her/his own personal story, agenda and belief system. For example, when I used "She" instead of the popular western way, "He" to describe God, perhaps right then and there a traditional Christian might shut down to everything transformative I was attempting to express. I had submitted this article to be published under the category of "Mindful Living," not where it ended up in "Parenting," specifically because my intent was to exemplify a "mindful" process to get through a challenging parenting experience.

In the end, even prior to the negative, mean-spirited comments that came my way, I had heard the voice of caution; my daughter's story is indeed hers, not mine. I have come to believe that I do not have a right to expose her sacred journey to anybody. If and when the time comes for her to explore her birth and adoption story, she will be the one to do so. I will be there to guide and support the process, but she must be the initiator.

Early in my spiritual journey, I came upon a Buddhist teacher named Pema Chodron. I learned in one of her early books that becoming emotionally free to spiritually prosper often means one must go through some very tough times.

"'I remember so vividly a day in early spring when my whole reality gave out on me," she reflects in When Things Fall Apart. She continues:

Although it was before I had heard any Buddhist teachings, it was what some would call a genuine spiritual experience. It happened when my husband told me he was having an affair. I was standing in front of our adobe house drinking a cup of tea. I heard the car drive up and the door bang shut. Then he walked around the corner, and without warning he told me that he was having an affair and he wanted a divorce. I remember the sky and how huge it was. I remember the sound of the river and the steam rising up from my tea. There was no time, no thought, there was nothing -- just the light and a profound, limitless stillness. Then I regrouped and picked up a stone and threw it at him.'

Though this quote does not depict an experience with her children, and I do not compare my having exposed my daughter's private moments with Pema Chodron's telling of her own story, without writers and teachers who are willing to risk humiliation from self-exposure, most of us who desire spiritual awakening would be left flailing about in deep waters without a life belt in sight.

So, even though I know there is a place for sharing deep and personal stories of transformation, I am siding with the readers who have endured a negative experience while reading my work. The time has come for me to heed the whispers and shouts and take a step back.