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.