Friday, March 21, 2014

Remembering Jeni

It almost seems like a lifetime ago when I was first breaking free of my denial, finding the courage to use my voice, speak out about the truth of what adoption had done to me, my oldest son, my entire family.

Back, in 2008, when I first started this blog, I was on one of the worst emotional challenges I had ever known in my life.  When I look back at that time now, it’s like seeing this tidal wave of emotions and confusion and pain and loss coming at me, again and again.  And I was so powerless then to stop it, to protect myself from everything I was going through.

The denial I so desperately clung to had been painfully ripped away a little over a year before when I’d reunited with my oldest son.  And  yet I’d gone and struggled alone because, as I’ve said before, I was convinced I was the one in the wrong for feeling like I did.  That there couldn’t be others who felt like I did because adoption, as it was presented to me, was such an amazing thing for First Mothers and Adoptees.  How could any of them be like me and actually feel pain and loss.

And then I stumbled across them, First Moms who were hurting just like I had.  Who were actually speaking out about their pain, supporting one another, sharing experiences and feelings that were so like mine.

It was the first step in my healing.  But I was still held back by so much. 

During that time, at the start of 2008, while finding healing in the First Moms I had found, I was still so desperately terrified of associating with adoptees.  How could they not hate all us First Moms who had given up our children?  How could they not look at us and be disgusted by what we had done to our own children.

And then, while in the time of our lives when my oldest son backed away and went silent, I learned of the physical and mental abuse he had suffered through his childhood.  It was one of the darkest and hardest times of my life.  Functioning as a normal human being from day to day, seemed impossible.  I just wanted to crawl into a dark, silent hole and go away.  Leave it all.  Ignore the terrible reality slapping me in the face.

It was then, as I’ve shared before here on my blog, that adoptees reached out to me.  Shared their own painful pasts.  Offered me the courage and strength to not only face the next day but to also reach out to and be there for my son.

One of those first adoptees was Jeni Gay Flock.

She was, in so many ways, so much of what I needed at that time in my life.  Those who knew her, will nod their heads in understanding when I say, she didn’t mince her words.  She was open and honest and said what needed to be said.

And that was exactly what I needed then.  In her own way, she supported me, gave me strength, while refusing to allow me to wallow in any kind of self-pity.  She was the kind of no-nonsense, give it to you straight, adoptee I needed during that time when I was so cautious, reserved in any interaction I had with adoptees because of my belief that they would hate me just for being a mother who gave up her child.

Jeni opened up and relived her own painful past as an adoptee to help me become better prepared and able to be there for my oldest son.  She had such courage, such strength that was all so new to me back then.  I know she had to hurt herself to open up as she did in order to help me.  And yet, it was never a question for her.  She did it.  She helped.  And that, to her, was what mattered.

And for me, there are no words to accurately describe what it meant to me to have her reach out, help me in the way she did.  Me, a complete stranger at the time.  A mother who had given her child away.  A woman desperately floundering to make sense of everything happening.

I had no clue, then, who I was, where I was heading.  But Jeni didn’t care.  She was there.  Offering so much more than I ever thought I had the right to receive.

She was so much in getting me to where I am today.  In making sure I was the best I could be for my oldest son.  In encouraging and helping lay the foundation for all that my son and I now share together.

And now beautiful, amazing Jeni has moved on to the next part of her journey.  She’s left us here in the living world, moved on to something better where I know everything she is, all that is so wonderful about her, will serve such an amazing purpose.

Even as I sit here and write this through my tears, I know, without question, wherever she is, whatever her new future holds, it will also include helping others, being there for them.  Fighting for those who deserve so much more than they are given.

Because that is who she was.  That is what she wanted and will never, not even after death, stop fighting for.

In this crazy, emotional, roller-coaster world of all that is the fight for adoption reform/adoptee rights, there are friendships, relationships, formed that are hard to explain and yet reach deeper . . . stronger . . . than anything ever known before.

There is an openness, a raw bearing of one’s true self, that is so rarely matched in any other part of life.  There is acceptance for just who one is, in both the good and bad.  An understanding of pain that controls so much, courage that is such a battle to find.
And there are losses that cut deeper, hurt worse than we could ever imagine.

Losing an amazing, wonderful soul like Jeni has cut deep, pounded hard, against so many of us.  The friendships, relationships, she created were formed, held by so much emotion, strength, courage.  But always based on the wonderful woman she was.  The care and love she offered so many.

We mourn with beaten, hurting hearts, the loss of such an amazing friend, ally, human being.  And we hold on to all that she was.  All that she inspired us to be.

Because Jeni mattered.  Her life had purpose . . . meaning.  And with her heart-breaking death, so many are stepping forward to be better, give more, do what we can to carry on the legacy she created in her support and love for others.

We are close, we are loved, we matter, through the unexplainable connection we share in our grief and loss brought by adoption.  And when we lose one so important, so profound, we hurt, we struggle and we mourn.

And we will continue on, fight harder, give more.  Because it’s who we are.  Because we know it’s what Jeni would want.

Because we know, to truly honor her and all she’s done for so many of us, it’s what is right, just, and true.

We love you Jeni.  And we promise all that you were, all that you fought so hard for, will never be forgotten.


  1. Oh Cassi... I am so very sorry that you have lost someone so dear to you. I only"knew" Jeni through her blog when she was writing and then on fb, yet I was still so saddened to hear of her death. Sending you lots of love my friend, and a big cyber hug as well.

  2. I knew her too and just found out. Tears for her loss...just tears.

  3. What a beautiful tribute! I only knew Jeni as a Facebook friend. I'm not sure how that came to be. But even though I I did not know her well, I too am very saddened by her death.

  4. Gorgeous tribute to our amazing Jeni. I loved her so much for all the reasons and traits you share here. The fabric of the world has a bug huge hole it in.

    Damn, I miss her.

  5. What a wonderful tribute to a great woman. Thank you Cassi. x