yesterday's blog. "It is the most natural and desirable aspect of an adolescent or young adult to have curiosity about his forebears, about his biological heritage and the sequence of his generational connectedness," Robert Jay Lifton, respected psychiatrist, thinker, author (and husband of adoptee and author Betty Jean Lifton) has said. We were both testifying in a trial in New York City for a woman who wanted to unseal her records in approximately 1977. "Incidentally," he added, "that curiosity is immediately stimulated by the very announcement that he or she is adopted. It is inevitable."*
My daughter (whom I relinquished to adoption) had an older brother, also adopted. He professed not to be interested in his natural parents or heritage, and turned down my offer of help after I found my daughter, Jane. He was in high school at the time.
Jane was always curious, and had told her parents she wanted to search as soon as she could; in fact, because of her epilepsy, her parents had tried to find out more about me, with possible contact in mind though ours was a closed adoption from the dark ages of 1966 in upstate New York. But they had no luck; I hired a searcher, found her, we met when she was fifteen.
Years pass. I was interviewing Jane for a book I would eventually write about our reunion and relationship, and she casually commented that her brother's not searching "was a gift he gave their parents."
Now, why is a lack of curiosity about one's forebears a "gift," if not a concept implanted by the culture?
More time goes by. Her brother marries, wants to have children. He now searches, hits a wall, and as far as I know, was unable to find out anything--another New York sealed-birth-records story. We all do things on our own timetable.
Adopted people who do not search are not deranged, as some of your seem to think I believe, but to not know one's heritage, and to insist there is no need to know, is surely a sign of cultural influence that is peculiarly American. We are one of the only countries in the world--if not the only country--where this attitude has taken such a firm hold. I am not saying that all adoptees or birth parents want to or will have a relationship, or should; that is for them to decide.
But as for the urge to know the truth of one's origins? Innate. Essential. Inborn. --lorraine
*Quoted from Birthmark. Because I had also testified in that trial, I was able to receive a transcript of it from the attorney for the adoptee, the wonderful and generous late Gertrude Mainzer.
PS: One last thought: if you have not yet written to Joe Roberts (see sidebar) in an effort to get the adoptee rights bill to the floor of the Assembly in New Jersey, please do so TODAY. If you are from New Jersey, were adopted in New Jersey, relinquished in New Jersey, so much the better; but if not, please still take the time to send a snail mail letter to him. We have been working to give adopted people their original birth certificates for more than two decades here, and we believe we have the votes--but the we can't get the bill to the floor for a vote. We want to inundate Roberts' office with letters. Without action, NOTHING HAPPENS. Now is the time to make it happen. Now is not the time to do nothing. Your letter might be the one that makes this happen. Tomorrow I will post the letter I sent.