Become a crusader and life never is boring...Today I'm thinking about that Arab curse that goes something like: May you live in interesting times.
A few months ago, as readers of Firstmotherforum know, I was scathingly attacked by a friend, a hot-shot bankruptcy lawyer and rainmaker, for having searched for my daughter and effecting a reunion with with her. Mind you, I've known "Aston" for nearly as long as I knew my daughter--since 1981. Aston started a cancer-care foundation for people who live on the East End of Long Island and my husband, Tony, is an active member of the board. We see Aston and his wife for dinner; we have mutual friends. Aston, incidentally, is godfather to the Chinese adoptee of mutual friends who have a home down the street. Aston and his wife,Marci, are childless; his mother argued against adoption and so they did not. I've known his wife for longer than I've been married, and I've been married 27 years. Shortly before this incident, she and I spent an afternoon together at a horse show. We're aren't, say, BFF, but we like each other.
Aston was not against adopted people searching and meeting their natural parents, but he was really against, really really against, first mothers searching. This would disrupt the adoptive family that has been getting on just fine, thank you, without interference, he insisted. He spoke of other mutual acquaintances who adopted from Gladney and then moved to Texas, where the wife was originally from, as really "taking a chance" because then the first mother might have an easier time finding them. (I don't know if this is one of Gladney's "open adoptions." Apparently the adoptive mother was worried about what the girl was eating during her pregnancy, and so at least knew something about her.) All of Aston's sympathy was for adoptive parents, who were there in the middle of the night, fixed the scraped elbow, read the nighttime stories, paid for orthodontics and SAT prep tests, et cetera. There was not an ounce of compassion for any first mother who searched. Marci, there at the dinner table also, said nothing. My husband felt she was anxious that Aston was going too far.
Finally, he asked: "What part of your pie chart in doing so is selfish? I just want to know." How do you answer that? The question was designed to make all first mothers who search look bad.
I have been quite torn up by this incident, for it made me acutely aware of how many people--including friends and acquaintances-- see me, a first mother who had the audacity to search, as well as the whole shebang of open records, particularly giving first mothers information about their children. We've got a lot of educating to do, and some people we will never reach. Aston represents legislators who will never vote for open records.
Except for answering the phone the time he called for my husband and I was curt, I have not spoken to him, or Marci. They have an annual party Thanksgiving weekend. I threw out the invitation. We did not RSVP. This morning I found an email from Marci asking if we are coming, that it's been too long since we've seen each other, signed "love." I have no hard feelings toward her at all.
In the larger world of searching and adoption reform, this incident is small potatoes. So what if my feelings are out of joint? Or even if this is the end of a friendship? This too will pass. I'm just venting today to friends who read this blog. You have to put aside the personal happenings and insults if you believe in a larger cause, one that you know is just and right, even when it seems everyone is against you. I know I sound hopelessly petty today, please forgive me, but I'm feeling blue.
Here is what I emailed Marci.
The conversation with Aston about adoption hurt deeply and has stayed with me and I would feel really uncomfortable coming to the party. Being a birth mother entails lifelong pain. It isn't something that happens once and you get over it. I have turned that into lifelong crusade both for opening sealed birth records for adopted people and the rights of mothers to find out what happened to the children they gave up. Aston's attack that night was therefore an attack on who I am so it is very hard for me now to know how to relate to him at all. It's also becoming increasingly awkward for Tony because of ------Foundation.
I tried to explain my feelings to Aston in a subsequent email but he never responded.
I'm very sorry because we have known each other for a long time--actually since before we had Tony or Aston in our lives. I don't know where we go from here.
This is one of those days I wish I didn't live in interesting times.
PS: In a day or two we'll be writing about international adoption.