A few people said they felt no connection to their birth mothers or family, and were not interested in pursuing more of a relationship with them than a "first look." It was the encapsulation of that feeling found on another website which started the ball rolling.
I've always known exactly who I am, save for a few thoughtful moments when I was four or five and imagined that my real mother might be someone else. So I can not know what it is like to be without knowledge of my real heritage, family, mother and father, brothers, cousins, etc. But I can not imagine not knowing and not going to the ends of the earth to find out. And not wanting to meet "those people" who gave me up for adoption. I'm saying it that way here because that's what it has to feel like. You can say, My mother made an adoption plan, but geeze, that doesn't get at the heart of it and obfuscates feelings. I practically laugh in the face of anyone who uses that kind of absurd language. Of course, on one level it's true: a bereft and penniless young woman sitting across from a social worker talking about relinquishing her unborn child is, in one sense, making an adoption plan. About giving up her baby. But she's giving up her baby. That's why she's there, that's what is behind all the less harsher words. Giving up her baby.
But I digress. When that baby is old enough to understand the switch that occurred shortly after birth--wouldn't anybody want to know why and how and who did it? I know a couple of seemingly well adjusted people--two to be exact who are among my circle of friends--who are adopted and have not searched. Well, that's not exactly true.
One man, at the behest of his wife when she was about to have their baby, went back to the agency in Minnesota where he was adopted and learned what he could about his biological mother and father's medical history at the time he was born. (Which might be vastly different 30 years later, but never mind.) However, though the social workers offered, he did not want to have the agency reach the mother and see if she was interested in contact. This happened many years ago as now their child is in medical school; the current law, according to the American Adoption Congress site, has a birth mother-veto system in place with the agencies acting as intermediaries. This is a very intelligent guy who has held high positions in the top echelons publishing' he's chosen to publish a couple of books about adoption that other publishers rejected. This is someone with a good mind. About everything else, he is curious. And yet he says No to learning more about himself? It's a puzzlement. It's an psychic wound, deeply buried.
Another adopted friend, a woman, also smart and savvy who once held a responsible big job in public relations, actually went so far as to hire a searcher. But when the searcher said he had to go to the state house where she was born and adopted to look up records, she pulled back and never went forward again. Case closed, for both of these people who are in the Sixties. For each, finding a birth parent alive now is chancy.
I don't get it. To not know more about yourself? To just pull down the curtain and close off that part of you? I have a hard time understanding anyone who simply closes up that part of his "self," and locks away inside the desire--the need!--to search for his roots, his true heritage, his birth parents. "Know Thyself" is the beginning of wisdom, the cornerstone of Greek philosophy. It is inscribed in the forecourt of the temple of Apollo at Delphi. It's what Socrates is all about.
These ruminations today come after reading the many insightful, often sad, sometime argumentative, sometime defensive, comments at the last blog, and will serve as a lead in to the poetry of my granddaughter, the granddaughter who was given up for adoption by my daughter. Hmmm, does that make me the birth grandmother or just the grandmother? Both, I will take both. I will take what I can get. I will be here for her. She is coming to visit in just over a week; I think she is as excited as I am. It will be our first meeting.
In the verse, she struggles with wondering who her father is.
The poetry is published in the online magazine, Konch, edited by the renowned poet, Ishmael Reed. My granddaughter, Lisa Marie Brimmer, is in the front row, far right. Poetry follows after the photo.--lorraine
Letter to my Father
by Lisa Brimmer
dear mr. so & so:
I hope to
survive your surname without
your surname. I strive to augment
your interpretation of a "who
am I this time?" story by
introducing you to a tall tale
tell all of my own. I
remember the MC HAMMER
and Barbie Doll families
that made me possible.
I am the plastic on plastic
lovechild and may be that
made me possible. You didn't
make me possible. You didn't
Dear Mr. So & So,
the rules you were
taught about order.
Forget the way my mother
called you by your name.
How can I teach you
that anyone can bastardize
scripture and get away with it.
the dish ran away with the spoon.
Dear MR. SO & SO:
Mr. So & So:
not be angry. I read Baldwin's
The Fire Next Time and wanted
to talk to you about it. I read
Baraka's The Dead Lecturer
and wanted to talk to you about it.
I read until my eyes blurred
on Vladimir Mayakovsky's words
about his Mamma, until my eyes
stung as I read a few words
about himself. I too
"am as lonely as a man
on his way to the blind." Please
do not be angry.
Mr. So & So:
Something about a Thelonious
Monk sound 'Round Midnight
and a piano. Something
about hands on a piano. Something
slower about hands on my mother.
Something slower about hands
in an approach to may be
,writing in effigy of touch
and the fictile sense
of the pen in my
hand on the paper.
Dear Mr. So & So:
to hear about the weather, however,
I wonder, how ever did you get into
the business of (x?)
I've always wondered how I'm going
to get through to you
without a name. Maybe I'll start in
Chicago. I've always wanted to
visit. Maybe you can teach
me about your business. Maybe
I can teach you about your
(x?). About you. What color is your
raincoat? And, what color is your
briefcase? And how broad is your
nose? What color is your
You can read more of her work at Konch Magazine.
Above are two books above are about the interracial experience. Repossessing Ernestine: The Search for a Lost Soul by Marsha Hunt is a memoir of an African American actress, singer and writer who, after working on the stage in Europe, found her white grandmother in a nursing home in Memphis. Mick Jagger is the father of her daughter, Kris.
The Girl who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow is a novel about a young girl who is bi-racial and raised by her black relatives after the death by suicide of the main character's white mother.