|Jane and Lorraine in 1982|
As Maryanne, one of our regular readers wrote at the previous blog,* her son didn't think much about being adopted. That was pretty much how my daughter felt. Jane was just not that interested in "adoption" as a factor of her life, though it clearly was, as we eventually talked about it. But in her day-to-day life, her epilepsy overshadowed everything else and she made no bones about letting me know. She wasn't critical of my involvement, but she wanted to make clear that she was not joining me on the ramparts of reform, neither as an adoptee, and later, nor as a first mother herself with the surrender of her first child, Lisa.
Jane didn't object that I wrote about adoption; and I wrote very little about her at all. We rarely talked about adoption. I think she both wanted to be out of the picture, but at the same time obviously enjoyed being "that person" sometimes, and would talk about how she was the daughter in Birthmark. In the tenth grade, she did a book report on it. Only once did she express interest in going to an adoption conference with me,
|photo by lisa sullivan roberts|
But I digress. But Jane's been on my mind more than usual because the anniversary of her birthday is Tuesday. April 5.
It's been a long, cold winter here on the East Coast. Only crocus and a few daffodils are out, even though it's April. But spring came on time in 1966 in Rochester, New York. As I was driven to the hospital in the late morning by a friend, other than Patrick, Jane's father, the only friend in town I had, I remember the forsythia was in wild bloom everywhere. On one road we took, the bushes ran along like a hedge, a riot of wild lemon yellow. I don't know where that road is, and I haven't been back to Rochester since 1979, but I can see that strip of forsythia bright in my mind's eye.
I never see forsythia that I don't think of my daughter. Despite all the pain that Jane's birth cost, physically and psychically, despite everything, I feel peace when it catches my eye. I love that it reminds me of her, the whole of her. That's why Birthmark has a yellow cover; and that's forsythia there on the jacket. (The artist originally drew daffodils and it had to be redone.)
Thank you for the feedback. Report another imagePlease report the offensive image. CancelDoneFor years, I would simply buy branches of it and let them slowly open in the heat in my apartment. After we moved to this house in Sag Harbor, I planted a forsythia bush in the backyard, the old-fashioned recumbent kind that doesn't have as many blooms as the newer variety. Our bush got so big--about twelve feet by four or five feet, I'd say--that it took over too much yard and didn't give the mass of color we wanted. Two years ago, we dug it up and put in another bush. It's my own memorial to Jane in my backyard. I take very good care of it, feed it fertilizer and clip it after the bloom.
The bush this year has filled out some, each branch is covered with blooms. They will come. They will fill my window for a few weeks, that will make me feel glad inside, and I will be sad to see the last blossoms fall off. Now that I think about it, yellow is one of my favorite colors.
What does this all have to do with Jane being an adoptee not that interested in adoption issues? I don't know. I also know two people my age or thereabouts who also seem to be only mildly interested in adoption, and they seem to be well-adjusted, content people, successful in their careers, with stable marriages and lots of friends, myself included among them. Neither one of them, in fact, completed searches for their birth parents that they both started. I was so burned up with the need to know I don't pretend to understand that part of them. But I accept them for the fine, intelligent people they are. And I treasure my adopted friends who are interested in reform; I love emailing and talking to them about this issue that is so central to me, to us. My life is richer with them--all of them--in it.
|Not our bush, yet|
Jane says that she always wanted to search for me and was glad that I found her instead, but that, I think, was the sum of her adoption involvement until she had a daughter herself that she had to surrender. But still that did not turn her into a movement person.
I cannot say I was disappointed; Jane was her father's daughter as well as mine, and he walked away from troubling emotional issues. Jane had her own life. I did not love her less because we did not share causes; she was interested in helping disabled people. The year before she died, she put on a fund-raiser for the epilepsy foundation in Madison, Wisconsin, and was planning another until a kind of madness intervened.** Jane was a troubled, searching, interesting, complex, ironic, sometimes funny, sometimes sad person who knew how to reach out to others with deep personal problems. Our relationship was multi-layered and sometimes distant; it always hurt when she slammed the door on me; it always felt good when she opened it again.
Oh Jane, I wish our lives could have been different. I wish I could have kept you to my breast all of my life until you were ready to fly on your own. Be at peace, my dear, my baby, my child, be at peace. I will think of you as our forsythia comes into bloom.--lorraine
* How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives
** Read Jane's own piece about her epilepsy: The Power Within You