This quote from Alex Haley is what inspired a 62-year-old adoptee in North Carolina, Raye Hedden, to search and find her natural/biological parents. Though reunion stories are rife today, this quote caught my eye because it sums up everything about the need to know. Contrast that with the comments from singer/actress Kristen Chenoweth, also adopted, and a memoir in progress, A Little Bit Wicked, about why she has not searched. In the interview Chenoweth says she gets sick of people pointing out that Brangelina have adopted children; that's she tired of the pressure to search and:
One thing it's [the book] not about is the search for her birth parents. "It's actually kind of the opposite, about what it's like not to do that, and what it's like not to have that family history, but to connect with the people who raised you," Chenoweth said.
"There's so much pressure," Chenoweth said. "Every time I meet somebody, and they say, 'You're adopted — have you found your birth parents yet?'
"If you met my parents, you'd know, (Chenoweth) is so their kid. I mean, we don't look alike. If I'm going to be honest, they're tall, brunette, they can't sing. They're engineers."
Asked about her brother, she said, "He should never, ever sing. Not ever."
When it was suggested that her family probably wonders sometimes where someone like her came from, she nodded. "I talk about that. I talk about like a little bit of depression that happened in my life and where that came from, and rosacea, and just things that people who aren't adopted know about."
Adoption-reform pioneer Florence Fisher, who remains a good friend, talks about "good adoptees," who tow the line, do everything possible to make their adoptive parents happy and...not do anything to offend them in any possible way. It sounds like they are afraid of losing their parents' love. Sounds like Chenoweth.
How sad. How pathetic. How unreal, but then, that is their reality.
In the years that I knew my daughter, Jane, before she committed suicide last December, I often would be so aware of her not being able to freely connect with me because of hurting her other mother. The first time Jane visited us, we spent the day shopping for clothes for school for her at Macy's (The world's biggest store! In New York City!), had dinner with my husband at Benihana, which we thought she would enjoy, and then went to see Evita on Broadway. She was fifteen.
She was non-nonplussed and didn't seem to like the show--even though we had first row balcony seats. Okay, I thought, maybe it's not her cup of tea.
But later, years later, she confessed that she only did that because she was having such a good time that day she felt disloyal to her other parents. One can truly understand the conflict, but it's sad. Sad that she could not be free to be loved and feel loved by both sets of parents. (My husband was not her father, but he took on the role of step-father rather easily, and that's how she saw him.)
And this again came into play when she stopped talking to me after her adoptive mother said at the funeral of her eldest biological son: "He was my favorite."
Jane barely spoke to me for a year. She needed to prove that she was worthy of her adoptive mother's love and the way to do that was to cut me out of her life. It was a hard time.
--hugs to every single adoptee out there reading. We first mothers are sometimes so screwed up ourselves that we can't connect with you...of course I'd like to give all those rejecting first mothers a smack on the head...but that's another post.