Through major sleuthing, and sending flowers to the people whom she knew had the information, my friend was able to learn the mother's name. Now she applied to every single state for the
woman's death record. None was found. My new friend was pregnant at the time, and, out of nowhere, the man wanted to name the girl (female on the way) Naomi. The wife through it was strange, but went along with it. Eventually, my friend and her husband were able to pry the woman's last address out of the records (more flowers and fruit baskets). Now my friend used the old-fashioned gumshoe strategy. She went door-to-door in the last known neighborhood of the woman in Harlem, where she eventually found the widow of her husband's grandfather. That led in swift time to his mother, who was in the hospital. Drugs had been a lifelong issue.
THE THINGS YOU LEARN WHEN YOU LISTEN
Name: Naomi, of course. They found my friend's mother in October, helped her in and out of the hospital. She died in March...the day the little Naomi was born. The mother said she never forgot her son, she was fourteen at the time he was born, she thought of him often. The husband is at greater peace than his wife has known. Though he did not talk about it much, she knew how much he wanted to know his story, and meet his mother. It's not a fairy tale ending, his relationships with his siblings are somewhat fractured, but he knows now who he is.
Since first nurse tells second nurse my story (which I had shared with her tout de suite)...another nurse makes her way to me. She has two adopted children, ages six and eight.
Uh huh, I say, revealing nothing.
Adopted from Guatemala.
Oh, huh, I think. Not good.
She had spent several years trying every possible means to get pregnant, she says, starting in her mid-thirties. None worked. One day she received a phone call from someone she did not know, asking if she would be interested in adopting from Guatemala. The woman gave her the name of an adoption lawyer who helped couples adopted from Guatemala. The lawyer and his wife and their "adopted" son (yeah, right, I was thinking) had started an adoption agency to help everyone--both infertile people who could afford their fees, and the suffering, over-burdened mothers, unable to care for their children in a poor country. The nurse said without much fuss, they were able to adopt their first child. It all worked out so well, they went back for another child two years later. All is well.
I did not tell her that the unknown person who got her name and phoned her out of the blue almost certainly got her contact information from someone at the infertility clinic, who was paid to supply a list of possible clients. Nor did I tell her that the happy adopted family she met was almost certainly not a "family" in the way that we think of them, and that the son was most likely an employee, paid to pose as a "son."
Nor did I tell her Guatemala has one of the worst records of corruption in adoption and that it has been documented by the Guatemalan government itself. Although her children were not adopted during the worst years of the civil war in Guatemala, or the years that the government investigated for corruption, her children very likely were kidnapped, or the first/birth mother tricked, and the paperwork forged.
I did not point out that the story of the corruption of Guatemala adoptions received scant media attention in this country, or ask if she had ever heard of the scandals in inter-country adoptions. She was the nursing supervisor. I was a patient.
I was glad when another matter called her away.
THE HOMING INSTINCT IS INNATE
And while in the hospital: I read this in the New York Times Book Review: "For blackcap warblers, the direction of migration is clearly innate, so crossbreeding a group of blackcaps who flew south for all migration with a group that orients westward results in offspring who flew in a southwesterly direction."
What is innate, what is learned? To learn what does not come naturally one must first wipe away what is innate, and try to conform to one's surroundings. I remembered my daughter being told that her step when she went up the stairs was too loud. Jane, she said she repeatedly was asked: can't you just walk quieter?
Not really, she should have said. Instead, she tried to comply. Years later she said she knew she was home when Tony, my husband, said to her after she climbed the stairs at my house: "You have a step just like Lorraine."
Of course, life is complicated, we humans have the gift and the burden of consciousness, our first home is not always a welcoming place, but the desire to find peace there when possible springs from deep within us. I am thinking of Robert Frost's poem, "The Death of the Hired Man" and this line: Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. --lorraine
*Apparently, such longterm payments for foster care, when the mother has released the child for adoption, are no longer possible in the state of New York. After a year, if the child is available to be adopted, the family or caretaker must adopt the child or he will be removed from that home, and placed in another. On the positive side, states now pay subsidies and continue medical coverage for children to parents who adopt children form foster care and need some financial help. These subsidies typically go to foster parents who adopt children in their care or to biological relatives.
'The Thing With Feathers' and 'The Homing Instinct'
Guatemalan Army Stole Kids for Adoption
Kidnapped in Guatemala, 'adopted' in America
Abuse in International Adoption, Part 2 with new commentary
The Child Catchers exposes the stench of international adoption--and domestic adoption too
Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self (Anchor Book)
By adoptive father David Brodzinsky, PhD.: Marshall Schecthter, M.D., who was married to an adoptee and the writer Robin Marantz, who crafted their thoughts in readable language.
Yes, I know it is from 1993, but it filled with truths and insights. It helped me understand my daughter better. I gave it to a teenage neighbor of ours who was adopted; she found it amazing and gave it to her best friend--also adopted. It's not long but rich with answers to persistent questions adoptees will have throughout their lives. All members of the adoption triangle will learn from this.
The Homing Instinct: Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration
by Bernd Heinrich
"Naturalist Heinrich (Life Everlasting, 2012) returns with another richly crafted title that immerses readers in the wild world. In this outing he focuses on the mysteries of migration and the homing instinct while also delving into the personal story of his own Maine home. From such expected migrators as birds and butterflies to moths, eels, and grasshoppers, Heinrich’s elegant passages (with line drawings) wander in and out of discussions on long travels, dwelling construction (bees are primary players), and “home crashers,” which include bed bugs and other pests. His trademark wit and self-deprecating humor are evident throughout, especially in a delightful chapter highlighting the intricate web building and preservation of a spider he rightfully dubs Charlotte. The many small illustrations of easily overlooked creatures combine to bring a story of life into focus. Whether in Alaska for the annual return of a pair of sandhill cranes or researching the lives of his land’s previous owners, Heinrich doesn’t lose sight of his goal—to understand why creatures great and small all long for a return to home." --Colleen Mondor at Booklist