There isn't a lot you can say to make yourself presentable--saying "I don't want my daughter back" is a lot like trying convince someone that you are not a racist. But before I got to that, I had to introduce myself and tell them who I was: My name is Lorraine Dusky and 15 years ago on April 5, 1966 I had a baby girl at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, and I believe that girl is Jane.
Then I held my breath. Because my daughter Jane was not an adult, I felt I had to go through her adoptive parents.
Then I waited.
|The first weekend we met, at her parents' home|
What is your name? And where are you calling from? were the first words the woman--her adoptive mother--said. I answered, and gave her my phone number, but then said: Why are you doing this? I was worried they were going to call the police, like I had heard some adoptive parents did. Instead, she replied:
I was worried that you were going to hang up, and we wouldn't be able to find you.
Then I cried. Then she cried.
I told her how much I thought about Jane and how much I wanted to know that she was all right and I hoped that I might be able to meet her. I am sure that I added: I don't want to take her back, that isn't it, but it has burned me up now knowing where she is, or how....
She put her husband on the phone and he may have specifically asked me what I wanted, and again I stated that I didn't "want to take her back."
And then they put Jane on the phone.
My calling was welcome to Jane's adoptive parents--let's call them the Rhymers--because they had been trying to find me. Why? Because "our" daughter had epilepsy. Their doctor had tried to find me through the agency, but the agency didn't even respond to their doctor's letter. Epilepsy is not hereditary, but her doctor was looking for any background information that might prove helpful in treating her.
Years after they first contacted the agency--around the same time I first began writing to the agency--they did receive a letter informing them that I had relayed some medical information. Once I realized that the birth control pills I took, after a negative pregnancy test, were likely to have harmed the fetus in some way, I wrote with some urgency to the agency. My earlier letters were just to stay in touch and let them know that I couldn't get my daughter out of my head--and could they tell me how she was? Now I stated in no uncertain terms that someone needed to let the adoptive parents know I had taken hormones while pregnant. The DES scare was all over the news at the time, and the doctors and experts I had been interviewing agreed that my daughter needed to be "checked," whatever that meant. Checked for what? They did not know. Just "checked."
That is how my reunion begins, and it is more than likely that our contact was made easier by several things: Jane's seizures, which started when she was five, the doctor's desire--with the full agreement of her parents--to locate me, and the fact that Jane had already told her mother that she wanted to find me. Her adoptive mother, Ann, said that they would look for me once she turned eighteen, but, of course, they had already let the agency know that they wanted to contact me.
She wasn't fine and happy at all. She was having massive and numerous seizures. She had been hospitalized many times. She had had a concussion. And in fact, I know this: the hormones in birth control pills leech Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, out of the body; and one of the treatments for seizures are large doses of B6. You make the connection. I did.
Within the week after our first phone call, I was at their home (see photo). Of course I was thrilled to see that Jane had a good home, a stable home, loving parents, brothers, and was living a comfortably middle class. That was how it was supposed to be, right?
But as time would pass, the relationship between the three of us--Mother, daughter and Other Mother--became increasingly complicated.--lorraine
I will be writing more about this in the days to come, and how adoptive parents today might respond to a first mother. Right now I can't write more--my weak eye is revolting by twitching, which means I have been looking at little black marks against a white background far too long in the last few days. And despite a huge effort this year in New York, it is almost certain that nothing will happen once again in my state. Am I bummed? Yes. Very. Yesterday I was angry; today I am merely tired.
Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self (above) for it discusses psychology of the different ages of the adopted individual. When it came out in 1992, I was several years into our reunion and relationship, but I still found the book immensely helpful in understanding the adoptee mentality. I lent the book to a teen adoptee I knew, and she read it in a day, and lent it to her best friend, also adopted. Most people who are not part of the adoptee circle do not understand how large a factor adoption plays in our lives. Adoptive parents have a different perspective, and end up feeling that if the adopted individual doesn't talk about it, she doesn't care. Not so. They are waiting for you, the parent, to bring up the subject.
For adult reunions today, I would recommend the Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption From a Place of Empowerment and Peace by adult women, most of whom who have been reunited, or at least know who their natural parents are. They essays are revealing and powerful, and some are tough to read. Four Stars.
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