' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Top of the Lake: China Girl--Part detective story, part reunion story, all riveting

Anybody else watch the Top of the Lake: China Girl on Sundance?

It's a detective story, all right, set in Australia, but it turned out to be a who-done-it wrapped around a first/birth mother reunion complete with adoptive mother Nicole Kidman playing the adoptive mother. Already I'm hooked.

The detective story involves a body of an Asian girl which is stuffed in a trunk that washes up on a beach around Sydney; but nearly as soon as that plot line begins we learn that the detective Robin (the talented Elisabeth Moss), is going to the home of the adoptive family of her daughter. In the previous series of Top of the Lake, we'd learned that she had given up a child to be adopted. Robin had been raped on prom night by three guys; she was 16 when the girl was born. The adoptive parents had written her in her native New Zealand, but she did not respond. Now a few years later, she's in Australia, and goes to their home.

Seventeen-year-old daughter Mary (Alice Englert) is rebellious, has a terrible relationship with her adoptive mother (Kidman), and is coincidentally involved with a sinister nut job who's much older than she is and who will be part of the who-done-it.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Canada to pay millions to victims of forced adoption in 'scoop' era

When will the awful news about international adoption stop? "Canada Agrees to Pay Millions in Lawsuit Over Forced Adoptions" read the headline in the New York Times yesterday. Indigenous children ripped from their parents and villages and sent to strange people as far away as New Zealand and Europe.

As we've heard in other adoptions of scale, the nonnative families the children ended up ranged from loving to abusive--but largely failed to educate them about their culture. What was told to the adoptee about their backgrounds--or why they ended up in a strange land--was left up to the families. You can imagine how that went.

Any little kid--many of them appear not to have been taken from their parents at birth, but when they were four or five--is going to wonder: What am I doing here? Where is my real family? My mother? My father? My sister? What are these people saying? Why is the food so strange? What did I do? Why why why? 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Annie Lane's damaging advice: When one child has an open adoption, and the other doesn't

Annie Lane
Annie Lane, a columnist with Creators Syndicate, offered up some noxious advice recently to "Anxious Adopter," who has two adopted children, a girl, 6, and a boy, 4. The boy's adoption is open and he visits his first/birth mother twice a year. The girl's natural mother, however, requested a completely closed adoption. There's the rub. The girl wonders why she does not have another family like her brother has. Lane tells the adoptive mother: "You might want to consider whether these visits would be good to continue in the long run. Are they good for your son? Do they confuse him?" Clearly a not-subtle recommendation that Anxious cut off contact with the boy's mother to spare the girl any disappointment, as well as to make life easier for "Anxious Adopter."

Friday, September 8, 2017

When DNA yields a first mother's (or father's) rejection

DNA is reaping more connections daily, to judge by the mail that First Mother Forum is getting about what to do as the trail to one's biological family heats up. Since cousins, aunts and uncles are revealed--seemingly more than direct hits to biological birth parents--the next obvious step for the adoptee in search, or the found family, is to see exactly who this new person is related to, and how. Especially when...no one has heard of this "cousin" or "niece" or "sister" before.

Then the questions begin. Uncles (who are brothers of the woman in question) express at first disbelief, and then...call their sisters, who are birth mothers--and since the brothers express doubt that the DNA can be accurate, there must be some mistake, right?--their skepticism feeds the woman's desire to keep the secret child just that, a secret. Unfortunately this chain of events is leading to many denials, especially from women like myself who gave up their children in the Sixties and earlier when we were told secrecy was the way we were supposed to live our lives. I imagine the thinking of these women goes, I've gotten away with this secret child and my husband/children/even my brothers and/or sisters don't know about her, and I'll just deny it. End of story. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Comments from the crypt to First Mother Forum

Just a quick run through of some of the comments we get that we do not post:

Advertisements--usually from someone in a foreign country--advertising a baby for adoption: Hello i want to give my newborn baby girl up for adoption, i just do not want her to suffer so i need a very loving and suitable home for her. any couple or single mother looking to adopt a newborn 3 months old message me now...that one seemed like a scam, but we do get others that appear to be sincere. 

Followed by an email address. I clicked on the link of the sender and it took me to a foreign country....I assume it was a baby-selling scam. We get comments like this about every other month.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What's the matter with closed adoption? EVERYTHING

Sometimes it is necessary to remind new readers that adoption--particularly closed adoption--is far from the altruistic institution that society and, typically, as a reflection of society, how the media portrays it. Today's post explores that thought and was triggered by a comment FMF received recently at a 2009 blog, Why Is Adoption Like Slavery?

Making the comparison, despite how it is framed, usually draws a number of comments from people unhappy with the comparison; yet at its core, the contracts of adoption still drawn up today in states where birth certificates are altered and thus, original ties are obliterated, result in social engineering as wrong as slavery was; the contracts involving adoption also treat the individual as a legal res to be handed over to another party, without input from said individual, at the time of delivery, and into the unending future.  As the late Cyril Means wrote: "Apart from slavery there is no other instance in our laws, or in any other jurisprudence in civilized system of jurisprudence, in which a contract made among adults, in respect of an infant, can bind that child once he reaches his majority."

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Who has a baby to make 'it' a gift? And why has this attitude permeated society?

My daughter Jane, at four or five, given up with 
blood, sweat and tears, and never a gift
How would you--adoptee and mothers--feel about a photograph of a pregnant woman's belly with a blue ribbon wrapped around the belly and tied in a bow?

Five Likes under the photograph on the Facebook page, Hoping to Adopt.

I would do a screen shot and show it here, but that function doesn't work on Blogger, no matter how I try to do it.

Lorraine at 5 years old 
I came across this the other day when I got a "friend" request from Hoping to Adopt. Bemused and thinking, Boy, have you stumbled into the wrong person for your cause and Facebook page, I went to the page and saw the aforementioned photo. Also one of those slogan things that unforunately I cannot remember exactly but it was designed to scrub "give up" in adoptese. It went something like: No one gives up a baby; no one gives up on her child. Since I am one of those who refuse to insist on prettifying language--I use "given up" as well as surrender and relinquish as it suits me. I also like given up because it so exemplifies how I felt at the time: I gave up thinking there was another way. My story is simple and as old as time: The father was married, promised to divorce but at some later time, the pregnancy in 1966 was scandelous and shameful; I felt the push of society to give up, and give my child to parents who supposedly were better qualified to be my daughter's parents.

Without the details, I pointed this out on the Facebook page, got an immediately apology from the owner of the page, he was sorry and did not intend to offend, he wrote; but I responded again saying, then stop trying to scrub the language of what adoption means to the first birth biological blood kinship natural mother. [What to call us mothers who bore the children of adoption is another problem for another day.] I would relate the exact exchange here but when I went back to Facebook later in the day, both the original saying at Hoping to Adopt and my comments were gone, including in my own list of my Facebook comments. Fair enough.

There are other sites about hoping or wanting to adopt on Facebook; I never comment because what is the point? But this photograph of a belly-wrapped gift really gets my dander up. Who is having the baby that is the ribbon-wrapped gift to this couple? The idea that the photograph perpetuates about women having babies they "gift" to those hoping to adopt is sickening. Any thoughts?--lorraine

POSTSCRIPT: The page has either been taken down or changed but the blue ribboned belly is visible to me no more. I may have been blocked, but there is another page by another couple with the same name. I may have been blocked by the other page owners. At another page by the same individual who responded to my comment, however, I did see the slogan that he likes so much: There is no "giving up" in adoption. No body gives up on their child. It appears to be a slogan from adoption.com. He and his wife are hoping to adopt a third time. They do not seem to be considering from foster care, or adopting an older child. It appears they are in the market for a newborn.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Are adoptees emotionally connected or detached to their biological/birth parents?

The question of connection between natural parents and their offspring emerges increasingly as DNA provides the links to family members who were not raised in that family. Some adopted individuals--and especially those who have been searching for their kin--are likely to feel a strong pull to their blood relatives, mother and father included. But not all adoptees feel this way. For some the disconnection may last, especially if social standing and education and religious beliefs are strongly divergent from one another. For some, the feelings of connection are likely to change over time, from cool to engaged to definitely! And if the mother and her family are rejecting, the gamut of emotions will go from hot to cold in time.

Reunion is so damn tricky. If you watch Long Lost Family

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Contacting siblings when a first mother is silent

Whether to contact family members--when the first mother is not responding--is the question that comes up often, and it's a doozy. The adoptee who searches wants to be reaffirmed and warmly accepted by her first mother, of course, but failing that, what about all those other relatives out there, including siblings!? And if Mom is not responding to repeated efforts for contact, then what?

This question is going to come up more frequently as more and more adopted people are finding not only their true heritage (1/3 Eastern European, 1/4 Southern Italian, 1/6 Scandinavian, a smidgen of Jewish, Irish, etc.) but also...that they have relatives who are also curious about their DNA--and what do you know, blood cousins, aunts, uncles, even siblings pop up! Getting a message that in essence ties you to a family by blood is going to reveal parentage on a greater scale than ever before. While DNA

Monday, July 3, 2017

Another adoptee suicide makes the news

There was a time when adoptee suicide was a matter for other people. I could hear about this one or that, and feel it was part of some "other" category than the one I was in: first mother, found daughter, complicated relationship.

My found daughter was alive; struggling, yes, but making a life. After more than the usual share of hiccups--epilepsy, sexual abuse by someone part of her unofficial adoptive family, a neurosis that led to continual untruthfulness, a daughter she gave up to be adopted--slowly but surely she emerged on the other side. Now she was happily married, and had a smart and sassy daughter who did not share her emotional or physical problems. After being shuttled off to learning-disabled math classes in high school, now she had an

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Adoption--Is it the new normal?

Is adoption "normal?" The question isn't asked because of course adoption is not normal--in the normal order, babies stay with their mommies and daddies are nearby, one hopes, if not actually right there changing diapers and sharing the middle-of-the-night feedings.

But adoption seems so prevalent today that it no longer seems abnormal. In my world, everyone knows someone who has adopted, or who is adopted, or who is thinking about adopting.

Consider: The other night I learned that a woman I see a couple of times a year at some gathering--and is a rather well known psychotherapist in New York--is adopted.  While she herself is almost certainly not ancestrally Jewish, she keeps a kosher household and according to our mutual acquaintances, has made clear that she is most decidedly NOT interested in learning the identity of her natural parents.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

'De-facto parents': Another way to steal children?

Would-be parent Kelly Gunn
What makes a parent? How does money play into who ends up with legal rights when a couple separate?

The legal issues surrounding gay couples where one has a child or adopts one continue to be litigated one case at a time.  As with any couple who separate, the child becomes the battle ground, as is the case of Abush, a seven-year old Ethiopian boy.

He was adopted in 2011 by Circe Hamilton, She and Kelly Gunn, a successful business woman, began a relationship in 2004 and moved in together in 2007. They began talking about adoption that year and attended an event for would-be adoptive parents. Jane Aronson was one of the speakers. She is a pediatrician and adoptive mother who calls herself "the orphan doctor" and is a comrade-at-arms with intercountry adoption advocate and Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet.*

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Feminists exploit anti-family adoption laws

 When I read Liz Latty's excellent piece on why mainstream feminism is pro-adoption* I was reminded of three strong feminists I've known in Oregon, all of whom served in the Oregon legislature and were adoptive mothers, I don't know why they adopted; two had biological children as well, suggesting to me that they saw adoption as both a way to save a child and a way to build their families without increasing the population.

From a few discussions with these women, I'm convinced of the sincerity of their actions, but also convinced that they wanted to accept the adoption industry Orwellian double think: Mothers love their children so much that they make the selfless decision to place them.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Adoption: The only option for low income women under the Republican agenda

Republicans celebrate House passage of AHCA,
Or, a bunch of white guys smirking that they can
take away health care and facilitate adoptions..  
To 217 House Republicans, choice for low income women means abstaining from sex or losing their children to adoption. By a four vote margin, the House passed the American Health Care Act. Twenty Republicans and all 193 Democrats voted  against this draconian measure. The AHCA caps Medicaid funds to the states, which will result in doctors cutting or denying services to low-income pregnant women. The AHCA allows states to permit insurance companies to exclude maternity benefits from their policies and deny coverage for "pre-existing conditions" including pregnancy. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

h♥le cont.: As a first mother, testifying for adoptee rights in New York, 1976

By 1976 the New York state legislature amazingly enough is considering a bill that will allow individuals born and adopted in New York to obtain their original, unamended birth certificates.

Florence [1] is planning a lawsuit to have the amended birth certificates be declared unconstitutional, but holds back now. If New York’s law fell, could the rest of the country be far behind? Florence and I troop up to Albany with a handful of others—adoptees, adoptive parents, a phalanx of psychologists and social workers, attorneys, adoption-agency heads, and another natural mother who turns out also to be an adoptee, a double-whammy that is way more common than most people know.[2]

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

h♥le, cont.: Telling the family about my lost and adopted daughter

This next section in hole in my heart follows the preceding blog, where I have just testified the first time in court for an adoptee hoping to access her original birth certificate. The judge has turned down her request. The year is 1974. My daughter was born in 1966 and due to living in another state at the time of her birth, my family did not know about her.

A few weeks later, I fly to Michigan to tell my mother. If I am going to be public, she has to know before she reads about me in a newspaper or sees me on television. Given our fight over college, spilling the truth to my father would have been much more dreadful, but his death two years after my daughter’s birth spares me  that humiliation. I tell my mother at lunch, over gin and tonics, and I see her wince when she understands what I am revealing. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

h♥le, cont.: Testifying to unseal the birth records of an adoptee

Lorraine testifying a a public hearing on
unsealing records in New York City, 2014
An excerpt from Chapter 8 in hole in my heart. Previous sections can be found by scrolling down on the HOME page.

February, 1974

I’m in an airless, overheated courtroom in the Bronx, where I will soon testify—as a natural mother—that we do want to know our children. An accountant named Ann Scharp is trying to get the records that were sealed thirty-seven years earlier when she was adopted. Her identity is likely to be sealed in papers at Spence-Chapin Adoption Services. She’s there to show that she has “good cause” to get her adoption agency records. If any adoptee has taken the trouble to go to court to learn their identity, doesn’t that  prima facie demonstratethat she ought to be able to find out who she is? But never mind—we know that whether her “cause” will be deemed good enough depends solely on this one person, this man in a black robe sitting up high in the judge’s seat.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter: The day I miss my lost daughter most

My garden today
Holidays were always bittersweet without my daughter. Easter is a huge holiday in the Polish Catholic tradition, so big, in fact, that when I was a little girl I remember trying to decide whether I preferred Christmas or Easter as an occasion. Even without the presents from Santa, Easter was equal to Christmas because it brought other gifts: coloring eggs with both my parents on Thursday or Friday the previous week; making bread with my mother early Saturday morning, before anyone else was up; then moving onto the pastry, stuffed with walnuts and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, the heavenly aroma filling the house by noon; preparing a basket of special foods for breakfast on Sunday and taking it to church to be blessed in the mid afternoon on Saturday; making nests from corn flakes and chocolate to be filled with jelly beans.

Sunday meant searching for a hidden basket of goodies somewhere in the house, my father making sure it was never easy to find; followed by Mass in our new Easter outfits with a pink carnation pinned to my shoulder, followed by a breakfast of those blessed foods, and then, finally big extended family dinner with my aunts and uncles and cousins with ham and Polish sausage and borscht and the hard-boiled eggs topped with beets and horseradish ending with my mother's delicious prune layer cake with buttercream frosting. And, of course, lots of chocolate.

Then suddenly, in my early twenties, I was the mother without the daughter to pass on these traditions. I gave

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

h♥le, cont.: Upon learning that birth records would be sealed--FOREVER

About to be swallowed up by the deep                             photo by Ken Robbins
“But we’ll be able to—find each other when he’s eighteen, right—or twenty one?” I ask matter-of-factly—it’s half a statement, half a question, surely that’s the case. I am talking to the social worker at Hillside Terrace, the euphemistically named adoption agency. Her first name is Helen, but to me, she is Mrs. Mura. She is in her thirties, not that much older than me. She is my confessor, my therapist, my authoritative conduit to adoption. Other than Patrick, and an occasional visit from my lone girlfriend in town, Christy, Mrs. Mura was my only outside contact for those last months. Christy works on the afternoon paper in town; she and I were both young, ambitious and from elsewhere when we landed in Rochester, but she’s busy with her own career, and I rarely hear from her.

I am holed up in my apartment, and don’t venture much beyond a nearby
grocery store, the pharmacy across the street, and the library a few blocks away.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

h♥le in my heart: The Sixties, the inevitable, the life-changing reality

The long winding road ahead               Photo by Ken Robbins
The mores of the times kept a’changin’ with the music, but no cultural shift happens all at once. While the sexual strictures were loosening, and hip young women like myself were supposed to be sophisticated about sex—not only having sex but wildly enjoying it—the heart-breaking irony was that being caught “in a family way” without someone to marry you revealed a society still stuck in the sexual shaming of earlier decades. Good girls still didn’t do it. Smart girls didn’t get caught. A great many found ways to get an abortion. The lucky ones got married. It’s estimated that more than a quarter (27 percent) of all children born to women between the ages of 15 and 29 in the decade between 1960 and 1970 were conceived before marriage.*

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Today is my daughter's birthday

Jane and Lorraine, April 1982, about a week after her birthday
Today is my daughter's birthday.

Okay, I'm done trying to ignore it. Some years I do better than others but today, maybe because the forsythia bush outside is ready to burst into bloom, maybe because I'm packing to move and going through a lot of adoption papers, and finding letters from her from that first early part of our relationship, and letters from people who wrote me after Birthmark was published, maybe because moving upends your life and you keep making decisions about what to keep, what to pitch, maybe because the song on the radio coming back from the super market was that soulful She's Got You by Patsy Cline, maybe because I watched Long Lost Family two nights ago, maybe because...well, there it is.

Having my daughter and giving her up to be adopted is the single most traumatic event of my life. Relinquishing her was more than a life-altering event; it was an invisible barrier separating me from the rest of humanity. I would always be a woman who lost a child to adoption. I would find her, we would have a reunion, but nothing would ever be as if she had not been adopted. Our relationship would proceed, but it would always have that huge hole in it, and neither one of us would ever get over it.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

h♥le in my heart: Sore and ready for new love who comes riding in

Lorraine and daughter Jane, summer of
1982, seven months after we met 
In the last segment of hole in my heart (3/31/2017), my first love and I had parted. I was living in Saginaw, Michigan, a weeks after graduating from college, and working for a daily newspaper. Another reporter on the paper was flirting with me, finding it hard to believe I was still virginal. This picks up after first love did not show up after a night in which he asked me to marry him--now. I was uncertain, I had an apartment where no men were allowed over night, and he left shortly before three in the morning to drive back to Flint, about a 40 mile drive. He was supposed to return the next day; I waited for him all day. He did not return.
                                     *     *     *
The following morning, July 5th, my virginity, such as it still remained, seems as outdated as a lorgnette, pretty to look at but impractical to use. Dashing scion continues to pursue me with the kind of charming intensity that such men possess when their goal is a reluctant cherry. I am a modern woman, right? I am hip, right? It is 1964! Even though all I knew about birth control could fit in a thimble, I am hardly the good Catholic who once believed in mortal sin, or someone who would reveal this transgression in a confessional. If I went to Confession.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Adoptee and birth family synchronicity: Quirks run in families

Jane, Julie, Lucy
A couple of weeks ago I took a cruise with my two sisters, Lucy and Kate along the California coast. We live in different parts of the country--Lucy in Orange County, CA, Kate in Central Illinois, and me in Oregon. During a stop in San Francisco, we met up with my youngest daughter Julie for a dinner in Chinatown. While showing off our deftness at manipulating chopsticks, Julie noticed that she, Lucy, and I had identical nail polish, a sort of shell pink. We hadn't planned this, didn't discuss getting a mani before our trip; still out of the scores of colors at Vietnamese nail salons in different cities, all of us picked the same color.  (Kate's nails were natural.)

Friday, March 31, 2017

H♥le: A chapter ends: Goodbye first love...more or less

The next day, the Fourth of July, is another scorcher, blistering hot and  humid all over again. That teasing shower the night before has not broken the heat wave. I wake when the sun comes up and it comes up before six. The ceiling above my bed has no writing revealing the future. I shut my eyes, hoping for a few more
moments of oblivion to stop the constant question but I might as well have hoped to stop time. I was either going to marry him, or not, and I’d know the answer before the day was done. If you want to marry someone, you know, right? You aren’t undecided between something from Column A and something from Column B at Won Ton Charlie’s
Take Out. It’s either YES, or, no. Somewhere inside I was
listening to a language learned before I was born: This is your
fork in the road, kiddo. Don’t screw it up.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

h♥le in my heart: Two steps not taken

Lorraine in 1964, in Saginaw
July 3, 1964
I am being pursued—presumably because I was initially standoffish as much as anything—by the good-looking scion of a wealthy Michigan family who is obviously destined for greater things than the police beat of The Saginaw News. He has a law degree from the University of Michigan, a socialite mother, a publisher father on a sister newspaper, but three desks away from me is where he is for the time being. Someday he will marry someone named Pru who went to a Seven Sister or a near cousin, this I know, but being the object of his ten minutes of attention is momentarily flattering. It is a given he is lobbing pretty women like tennis balls from one of those thingamabobs that automatically shoot them into the air, one after another.

It’s Friday night, we’ve had drinks, he’s made me dinner at his insanely fabulous single-guy studio on the top floor of a once-grand house on Mansion Row. I am a virgin, I say, disentangling myself from he who is so smooth his cologne should be called Savoir-faire. He is astounded—how could this be in this day? It’s 1964! The promise I’d made to Tom bounced around in my head: I wasn’t going to give up that just yet for a quick flash in sheets, despite his insistence, despite how Victorian I suddenly feel.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

h♥le in my heart: The boy back home

Chapter One, Back Story, Continued:

Once I’d planned to marry the boy back in Michigan, but so much had come between us. We were victims of parental interference, communication complications, physical distance. Tom Kleskowski and I decided to get married after the four or five occasions when we were together, if you count: one, my cousin’s wedding our freshman year of college when we met: two, Christmas Day a month later when he formally called on me and met some of my extended family in a scene straight out of Jane Austen; three, going to the movies with his four year-old brother in tow; four, New Year’s Eve; five, two months later when he proposed by saying, I have to make something of myself because I want to marry you.

Monday, March 27, 2017

When fate knocks and I walk through the door

February 13, 1965
We are making small talk as we walk across the Genesee River on my first day of work cityside at the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. I don’t know it yet but I am brushing up against the man with whom I will soon fall truly deeply madly in love. Our love will thrust me into a life I never could have imagined, but at this moment I am merely walking across a bridge.

He is somewhat older, already established in the profession that I have dreamed about since the fourth grade. It’s early evening, dusk is hurtling toward dark, but it’s not cold for February, it’s foggy and damp but not quite raining. A silk scarf is tied at the back of my neck a la French movie star, and I am wearing a slick soldier-blue trench coat with a red lining—Made in France!—that cost a week’s salary. I am high on life at that moment—hell, I
am practically gliding across the bridge—for I’m the first woman to be hired
for the metro desk at The Democrat & Chronicle since World War II emptied
the newsroom of men.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

How life changes when you became pregnant and have to face adoption for your child

The mother walks in following a child who runs ahead of her. The child is two, could be three. I’m sitting at Starbucks in the morning reading The New York Times, wishing the music was turned down a tad. Sun is streaming through the window behind me. My husband Tony is doing the crossword puzzle. Both of us are writers and it’s nice to get out of the house in the morning.

But for the moment—fifteen seconds or so—my attention is diverted to the child, and then to the mother, and back to the child. Unconsciously I look to see if child resembles his mother.

I want to be able to tell myself he is not the child of someone else.

I want to reassure myself that the woman is his only mother.

I have been doing this ever since she was born.

Probably before. As soon as I knew I was pregnant.--by lorraine from hole in my heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption  [Prologue.]

Friday, March 24, 2017

Excerpt from hole in my heart: A few words about language

Daughter Jane and Lorraine, circa 1992
Regular readers know that I'm moving from a house where my husband and I have lived for 33 years ago another house in the same village.

It's only a mile away, but even moving next door means going through the collection of a life and deciding what to take, what to discard, what is worth taking, what is not, what you cannot live without, what you no longer want to live with. It's time consuming and somewhat emotional. My husband and I are both collectors of a sort--he has 5,000 books and he's getting rid of about a thousand; I've collected various sets of dishes and odd plates and platters that I like, as well as antique butterfly wing trays from Rio, and they are going to go!

We are moving from an Arts and Crafts house built in 1930 to a modern house built in 1990. And I want our new life to reflect the change. I'm going on here more than I meant but this is a way of saying that for the next couple of months (the move itself is in May), I won't have much time for writing. Jane will undoubtedly post now and then, but she too is busy with her life. While this is going on, I will publish excerpts of my memoir, hole in my heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption. The spacing will follow how it reads on the book page. This is the first section, not a forward, but "A Few Words about Language":

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sealed birth records are an abomination of individual rights; CT needs written testimony by TUESDAY eve

Lorraine testifying in New York, 2015
Imagine that you are at a family gravesite. A grandmother is being laid to rest alongside her husband, perhaps a sibling or two, and other relatives connected by birth. You are standing there, head bowed, but you can’t squelch the awareness that when you die you do not really belong in this family plot. You should be elsewhere. You have a whole other passel of relatives, but you don’t know who they are, or where they are. You are adopted.

You have no knowledge of who you really are, where you came from and how you got here, you have no family medical history. You don’t look like anyone in this family, and you wonder where you got your flat feet or why your second toe is longer than your big toe, when nobody else in the family has feet like yours.

You are an orphan in the world.

You’ve known since you were five or six that you came from another life, but you understand that you are not supposed to question, or