So, why didn't Vernita respond to her daughter's obvious plaintive plea for confirmation and contact? She wrote, as I recall, her pastor wrote, but still no response. Why? asked Oprah. Vernita said: "Because I thought it was a terrible thing for me to do, that I had done, gave up my daughter when she was born."
I understand that, I was thinking, but still your daughter deserved better than that. Finally, the family conspired to confront Vernita. And then Patricia could say: "I feel complete, whole."
Yes! I was screaming at the TV: she was able to find her mother because of the amount of non-identifying information that was passed on, and even if Vernita Lee couldn't bring herself to reveal the secret of this daughter, thank god she and her children found a way around that. Adoptees deserve answers no matter how far in the closet are their mothers.
The secret of our surrendered children is a terrible thing to keep, and it has kept many a first/birth mother from accepting and meeting their children. Talk to any confidential intermediary, and that's what they hear over and over: I can't tell my other children; I can't tell my husband...I've kept this secret for so many years.
I feel for all the Vernita's out there, for all the closeted birth mothers, but despite their fears, everyone deserve to know the truth of their origins. Tacked on my bulletin board is an old bumper sticker someone sent me years ago that reads: "Adopted People Are Not Allowed Ancestry Because It Might Upset Somebody."* The children of women who continue to hide behind the cloak of anonymity do not deserve to be treated like dirty little secrets. By their simple fact of existence, they are owed equal rights as the rest of us, and that includes the clear and true knowledge of whom they were at birth. Anything less is a travesty of justice. Anything less is unacceptable and wrong at its heart. Anything less is wrong.
Oprah said at the end of the program that she had a revelation about her mother's reluctance to own up to the existence of another child who was given up for adoption: her mother was still stuck in 1963, when Patricia was born. She needs to let go that shame...well, easier said than done if you have been living a lie and keeping the secret the nuns and the social workers told you to do. But when the truth did come out in this scenario, it didn't kill Vernita, and it gave Patricia the answers she wanted and needed.
Giving all adopted people the right to their original birth certificates is a change whose time has come. though much bally-ho is made over the women who prefers anonymity, their rights should never supersede the right on an individual to know the truth of his or her origins. No adoptee--no individual--deserves any less.--lorraine
*Orphan Voyage it reads at the bottom.