Friday, February 19, 2010

A Joyous Reunion


Oprah Winfrey’s reunion show Thursday was inspiring and refreshing.

“It’s a validation thing. When your birthmother looks for you, it’s validating that you were never forgotten. It heals a piece of you. It’s a gift, honestly.” Pam Slaton, an adoptee and professional searcher who reunited rapper Darryl McDaniels (DMC) with his mother, spoke these words as she sat next to a mother and daughter she had reunited the day before.

The mother, Linda, had given up her daughter 42 years earlier when she was 15. Linda had no choice; her mother refused to let her come home with the baby. Pam accompanied Linda back to Rosalie, the home for unwed mothers in New York City where she gave birth to her daughter in 1968. It was Linda’s first return, an intensely emotional experience. She remembered “the joyfulness of giving birth” and the sorrow of walking out without her daughter. “I knew the day I was leaving and I knew the last time I held her was the last time I held her” she said sadly.

Laura, Linda’s daughter, had tried unsuccessfully to find her mother. “I have lived all my life without a family. I have been dying for a family. My life was difficult. I used to think from the day I was born I’ve been rejected; that I haven’t been able to find anyone who cares about me…. When you’re adopted, you never know why the person gave you up. You never know if they decided that they didn’t want you. You were an accident. They didn’t care; you weren’t worthy of their love.”

There were no platitudes (“I’m grateful that my birth mother made the difficult decision to give me up. I never would have had this wonderful life.” “I knew I had to let her go. I made the right decision.”) It was just a mother and daughter who never should have been separated coming together, bringing with them Laura’s husband and three children and Linda’s son. (Oprah dutifully warned the audience that not all reunions end up this way.)

At the end of the show Troy Dunn “The Locator” admonished the audience about not delaying their searches (the reality of mortality.) “Think about the unloved ones in your life. There is still time to move them over to the loves ones list. There is no better time than today.”

Later that day I read on the Bastard Nation list that the South Dakota Senate had tubed a bill to allow adult adoptees to have access to their original birth certificates. I just wish these obdurate politicians had seen Oprah’s show.

11 comments:

maybe said...

Sounds like a goo show, wish I had recorded it. Thanks for the recap.

The Improper Adoptee said...
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Jane Edwards said...

Improper,
You can catch the whole show on Oprah's website. I linked to the segment about the mother and daughter but there were two other segments where Troy Dunn had done the searching. The first was an update of a show about a mother reunited with the foster daughter she had cared for for five years. The second was about a daughter reunited with her father whom she had not seen since she was 12.

Yes, Oprah did get a little "Corporate Adoption manure" in, particularly when she described the mother as "deciding" upon adoption where it was clear she hadn't and referring to the mother as "tracking down" her daughter.

"Tubed" Here's what my dictionary says: "down the tube Slang. Into a state of failure or ruin: saw all her plans go down the tubes." Yes, I meant the SD Senate rejected an open records bill. (Gotta protect those girls from their big bad stalking offspring.)

Lorraine Dusky said...

Troy Dunn was actually great--his reunion as that of a foster mother who had a child for five years and she was taken away at seven to be adopted without the woman being able to tell her why, and the state would never let tell her where the girl went. Turns out the girl was adopted by a good woman (sitting in the audience) but she always wondered about why her first mother (who she remembered)and why that life ended so brutally when the women had a child,and the state would not let her adopt the girl. The state person just came and told the foster mother not to say anything, and the girl was taken away. No mention of her first/first mother was made, or if she is curious about her.

So there were some things said about blood not being thicker than water, etc., but all around it was a nice reunion. And between the time Dunn found the woman and yesterday, she lost about 30-40 pounds and looks great. So that led to talking about her feeling better about herself once she knew: all the pieces. Many times were heard: You can't have peace until you have all the pieces.

Right on!

Dunn also made a pitch for not waiting until everything was perfect before you do a search, saying something like: If you wait until everything is right, it will never be the right time. Time isn't everything, he added, but it is something...as he talked about searches done too late for a reunion. He also had a father/daughter reunion that did not involve adoption, just a mother who pushed a father away. The girl only has a few months left to live and wanted to find her dad. He has moved into her home and takes her to all her doctor appointments, takes care of the kids--well, I was bawling by the time they were done talking.

I loved the show. Dunn's new season on WE begins in March. I record them all.

Lori said...

Interesting, I thought Oprah had removed herself from the "reunion" business. Cool.

Anonymous said...

kitta here:

I didn't see the show. I confess I have avoided Oprah because she has made so many statements about the greater importance of "who raises the child" than "who gives birth to the child." Once she told about being pregnant at the age of 14 and "having nothing to offer that child." She said that her baby, a girl, died right after birth. I guess the pregnancy was the result of rape or an abusive relationship.

It sounds like a good show, and I am very glad that Dunn emphasized the element of time with regard to mortality. Some of us wait too long to search, and some of us lose our found loved ones to death after re-union, but much much sooner than we ever would have expected.

Baby Girl Williams/Morse said...

Because of the Olympics, I had to watch the sister station of our local NBC affiliate at 11:00 last night. And of all nights, I actually wanted to get some sleep. Go figure.

Anyway, I was able to watch the entire episode. I had a difficult time hearing the "there's no such thing as 'blood is thicker than water'" comments. I understand that they probably feel the need to be politically correct, and that introducing the idea of search by all sides of the triad to the general public needs to be handled well to get the best possible outcomes for adoptee rights movements, but some of the comments really rankled me.

At one point about half way through the show I mentioned to my fiance that it was beginning to feel like a waste of time. Not that the cases of the foster family reuniting and the father/daughter finding each other again weren't touching, but it wasn't the meat and potatoes I was looking for in the show.

When it came to Linda and Laura's reunion story, I cried. THAT was what I was looking for, and I'm SO glad that Pam Slaton was able to just SAY that adoptees NEED to search, and didn't back it up with anything else. The need is enough, and a valid reason unto itself.

While it wasn't completely the show I was hoping for, I'm glad that it was aired. It's important to get our message out to as wide an audience as possible, and Oprah is significant enough of a venue to put the idea that it's OK to search in the public's eye. While I'm not personally a fan of Oprah, I do understand the tremendous impact she has on popular culture today; if OPRAH says searching is OK, there are people out there who will go along with it, just because it came from her.

It's better than nothing.

The Improper Adoptee said...
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Anonymous said...

" what Troy said about mortality is also salt in our wounds,and very haunting, as the Church and the Adoption Industry, along with some AP's changed facts about Adoptees birth's (dates, place of birth) so it would be impossible for their Mothers to find them-I think alot about time wasted-time we can never get back"

Kitta here: ITA, Improper adoptee, and this practice of falsification is especially cruel.

Mothers are told that our children are 'happy" and "don't want to know us." But, I planned to find my son as soon as he was legally an adult...no matter what.

I figured if he didn't want to know me he could tell me himself.

It turned out that he had already started searching for me, but backed off when the agency discouraged him. He was afraid I would reject him.

About 8 months after he had called the agency looking for me, I found him.

He told me he had always wanted to know me. He also told me that he expected that I would find him. He could somehow feel that I was searching, and he was right.

My son passed away at the age of 39. He left a daughter whom I have a relationship with.
I have always urged people to search before it is too late...and I am glad that I found him when I did.

The pain of the loss is terrible but it would be worse if I found out about it afterwards.

Mama Bear said...

one thing that really stuck with me was when the birthmom and her 42 year old daughter were reunited, was how she felt about her mom naming her , she was so happy that she was named, that just broke my heart and when her mom was saying how in her mind her daughter was living an awesome life in a castle some where and actually she had a hard life, wow that was very emotional

Maura said...

I'll preface this comment by saying I am an Oprah fan. I am not, however, a mindless follower; in fact, I think she deserves a lot of the ribbing and criticism she gets.

The Improper Adoptee, I wouldn't go so far as to say Oprah doesn't have the right to follow the industry stance on adoption. I mean, she has the right to hold any view she wants about anything. But, because she wields so much power, I do think she would do well to educate herself on the subject. Actually, if she's going to make herself some sort of de facto spokesperson on the adoption issue, or if she's going to utter even a word about it, she has a responsibility to educate herself.

As you mentioned, she has ignored adoptees and natural mothers over the years, as far as I can remember. I find that surprising, because she's a pretty thoughtful woman, and she likes to cover subjects from all sides.

I haven't seen this particular show yet, but I'll go to her website to do so. After that, I'm going to send her an e-mail. She does listen to her fans, so it can't hurt, and it might help. I'm sure I won't be the only person she hears from on the issue.