|Jane and Lorraine in 1983|
But what of closed adoptions today?
I read the other day on a blog that some women who relinquish are continuing to be told to talk about it to no one, tell no one, including their future spouses. I was stunned because I thought that attitude--the one I am so familiar with--was was old as crinolines under poodle skirts. I'm grateful that it was not anything I ever heard from my social worker, whom I came to like a great deal, at a non-religious affiliated agency in Rochester, New York.
But it if is still being urged in the last couple of decades somewhere, and we know that agencies do handle closed adoptions...(given the recent fire fight here I'm hesitating to tell you which ones but you can look them at the website of the National Council for Adoption) I'm betting that it is still prevalent today.
Houston, we have a problem.
If that is what some women are still being told, the people who tell them that are going to go to their graves fighting open records and giving all adult people the right to their original birth certificates and all the information contained therein.
The comments to yesterday's post have got me to thinking: Would I have turned into an advocate for open records had I married Patrick, my daughter Jane's father, after we relinquished her? Would I have searched? I was madly in love with Patrick, and if he had been free within the next two years, we probably would have married. However, by the time he was free a few years later, and asked me to live with him/get married...I was married to someone else. I was one of those women who was so down and out after Jane was born and surrendered that I needed a marriage as quickly as possible to validate that I was not scum.
Our story weaves in an out for years, but Patrick and I were never free to be with each other at the same time. He was a hard-drinking Irish newspapermen with a great gift for language, a sharp dresser, a consummate gentleman...who shied away from emotional turmoil. And so, he never met Jane. The last time I talked to him before he died, he wanted to have lunch with me to talk about maybe meeting Jane. I felt he was probably stringing me along, as I had asked him over the years several times to just meet Jane--he always had an excuse for that particular time--and by then, I was quite angry that he did not have the courage to meet her. Our daughter. She had been living with Tony (my husband) and me for the summer. I really did not want to have lunch with Patrick, without Jane. I wanted to shake him and tell him to be a man.
Oddly enough, he did not object when I wrote Birthmark, and wrote quite openly about him, but changed all names connected to him and his family. (He's Brian in the book.) In fact, my publisher asked that Patrick sign a letter saying he gave his permission, and that he did. That sealed letter may still be in some file at whomever took over M. Evans, my publisher, years later. I think he was a kind man, only weak in this respect. His obit in Newsday is quite flattering. But the question that will never be answered is: How would we, as a couple from the dark ages of a Sixties relinquishment, have handled the issue of our lost daughter? When I searched, when my daughter was fifteen, it was with my current husband's blessing and encouragement. Would Patrick always have said: manana? Surely I would not have written Birthmark.
So while I'm dismayed that some couples avoid contact with their surrendered children, I think I would have had quite a battle with Patrick over this issue.
Would I have searched? Found Jane and felt the cool relief of knowing? Been to her as much as a mother as I could? I like to think so, but Patrick, ah, he would have been a drag on the drift of my life.--lorraine
Note about the 90 percent figure in yesterday's post: When you find birth/first parents who have married. It was a casual comment from a confidential intermediary and searcher (for a private company) whom I know quite well and trust implicitly. She added that she had mentioned it to other searchers and they had the same reaction. This is not a definitive number or representative of a major survey of CIs; and in thinking this over, I am inclined to think that is going to be a figure skewed dramatically by age, that is, the older the adoptee, the farther back the relinquishment, the more likely the rejection if the couple has married and is married. But this is only an educated guess; do not nail me to the cross over this figure.
Sorry the picture is of such poor quality. It's an old shot that hangs on my office wall. I'm far from a pro at taking and copying pictures but many of you had asked over the months for a shot of the grown up Jane. Here we are together. She would have been seventeen that summer; that summer we were the subject of a story in the New York Times.