|First Family Basher Lisa Lutz|
Lisa Lutz joins a gaggle of literary adoptees, which includes B. J. Lifton, A. M. Homes, and Amy Dean, who find what they see as seriously deficient birth parents and feel free to tell the world of their sorry genetic origins.
Lutz, the author of a series of detective novels featuring a sleuthing family, writes about her reunion with her birth parents in the “Lives” section of the May 6 issue of The New York Times Magazine, “Where Did I Come From?" The online version adds the title "I Found My Biological [not natural, real, birth, first, but the icy biological] Parents and Wish I Hadn't."
Twelve years later, Lutz finds her biological father, a man decidedly not worthy of a successful-writer daughter. She tells us he picked her up in a windowless jeep and drove to a mobile-home park, talking about his motorcycle, his boat, and working out during the two-hour car ride. When they parted he asked her if she wanted him to take her to Disneyland. That was the end of that relationship.
Lutz, unlike many a first family-bashing adoptee, did not have a good childhood. Growing up she felt she was living with complete strangers. They were always unnaturally suspicious of her, checking her for needle marks before she’d ever gone to a party or gotten drunk, she writes. Lutz concludes: “Family is the luck of the draw, and so is how you turn out.”
WHAT THE MEDIA CHOOSES TO PUBLISH
Frankly, I don’t believe Lutz. If she really wished she hadn't met her biological parents, if they were so meaningless, she wouldn’t have bothered to write about them. It seems more likely that she is dealing with her still-in-the-closet mother and trailer-trash father like the fox dealing with the inaccessible grapes; calling them sour and denying their importance, rather than trying to understand their loss and develop a relationship.
A more irritating question is why the Times selected Lutz’s story for publication in its “Lives" section in the first place. The Times doesn't lack for submissions noting that “because of the volume of e-mail, the magazine cannot respond to every submission.”
Both the Times and The New Yorker which published A. M. Homes' diatribe against her first mother, The Mistress's Daughter, apparently believe that their highbrow readers, which undoubtedly include many adoptive parents, enjoy narratives depicting first families as low class breeders. These essays re-affirm the power of nurture over nature and the value of contrived relationships over natural ones, even where the contrived family is less than optimal. Lutz's adoptive parents might have checked for needle marks but, Lutz notes, if she had been raised by her “genetic parents"..."it seems unlikely that I would have ended up with the degree of ambition that I did, one that surpassed my modest genetic gifts.” I cannot believe that the Times would print an essay where the author criticized her adoptive parents--without also acknowledging their part in making her what she is. And an essay where a first mother regretted finding her relinquished child is unthinkable.
I have never heard of a first mother meeting her adult child and refusing to have a relationship because the child is beneath her in class, intelligence, or in some other way. Mothers who refuse relationships do so because they are in the closet. With patience, they may come out. Mothers in on-going relationships may be critical of their children from time-to-time, just as all of us may criticize actions of family members and friends. However, I've never seen anywhere near the negativity that Lutz, Homes, and other adoptees subjected their mothers to. In fact mothers--Margaret Moorman, Meredith Hall, and Lynn Franklin for example--often present their found children as golden. Mothers whose children do have serious mental problems--Patti Hawn and Denise Roessle--still make the effort to do what they can for their children.
Adoptees seem to have no inhibitions about cutting out and telling the world of their parents' failings via memoirs and articles. Perhaps I should not be surprised. After all if someone cuts you out of their life – in Lutz’s case twice--after giving you life, you may find it hard to say something nice.
I Found My Biological Parents, and Wish I Hadn't
From FMF: Reunion gives birth mothers a 'second chance'
Some happy endings have a twist mothers don't expect
PS. Yesterday I had nothing on my calendar and rather than doing what I should be doing--clean the deck or work on writing a blog, I decided to flip through a stack of New York Times Magazines my neighbor had given me and see how many I would have to go through before I found an article on adoption. The answer was exactly one. The piece which is the subject of this post appeared on the last page of the first magazine.