The man who has the hour show before Bonnie greeted me with a big hug--I know him from the local bird seed and supply store where he also works, and it was clear he already knew the topic, even though my story was all news to him before then. We usually discuss the merits of safflower seed vs. sunflower in the summer to discourage the hoards of grackles and starlings.
BIRTH CONTROL IN THE SIXTIES
I told her the story of a friend of ours who was in Vietnam in the Navy, and how it was all right for him to go to 'Nam but by the time he got out of her tour of duty three years later, everything had changed and when he wore his uniform so he could ride for free on a train to Washington, a woman spit at him. I said the swiftness of the change in regards to the Vietnam War was similar to how swiftly the change came in regards to social change in other areas caught women like me in the crosshairs and in the end I lost my baby. Women were supposedly now "free" to have sex before marriage but...weren't supposed to get pregnant.
Yet we did.
I talked about how not until 1972 was it legal for unmarried everywhere to have access to and use birth control, after Eisenstadt v. Baird was decided by the Supreme Court. How Bill Baird in 1967 was arrested in 1967 for distributing a contraceptive foam and a condom to a student during a lecture on birth control and abortion at Boston University--a year after my daughter was born and relinquished.
She asked me to describe what giving up my baby was like, I got teary for a minute, but it was all right, and I got myself together quickly enough.
ARE ALL ADOPTIONS BAD?
She asked what I thought of adoption like that of Brangelina's kids: I answered about all the displaced Korean adoptees, that South Korea was exporting kids as a cash cow after the Korean "police action" aka "War" and said that the sense of dislocation of intercountry adoptees was not a good thing, that adoption in general was way more complicated than simply thinking of it as A Good Thing, that it leads to a sense of abandonment that never quite recedes, that there are many issues of feeling out of sync with the adoptive family that are generally ignored, and that every time a celebrity adopts it becomes a promo for more adoptions--and that is not a good thing.
I said that didn't mean there should never be adoptions--but we need to rethink how and what adoption is. I said there were older children in foster care who really did need homes, but far too many people want newborns and those children are left languishing. Actually, I am not sure if I got the languishing part in, but I made my point: IF YOU ARE GOING TO ADOPT, ADOPT FROM FOSTER CARE.
THE ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO KNOW ONE'S ORIGINS
What do I hope came out of writing the book? she asked. That every individual in the country would be able to walk in one day and simply get their original birth certificate and learn the truth of their origins.
And that while it seems that such a right ought to belong to every individual simply by being born, only in seven states were people allowed such a right.
I added that in some cases the birth certificates did not have the right information, or any at all, and it might rest with the adoption agency (though we know in some cases there is no real record at all). That in New York we have a bill that has enough votes to pass in Albany but every year it is stymied by powerful people in the legislature who use the canard of protecting natural mothers from their children, as if they were going to come back to hurt their mothers. I said that adoptees were people like you and me and they just wanted to know who they were and were they came from, and that not being able to have this information caused unbelievable pain for some. I remarked that our legislators in Suffolk County, Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Senator Ken LaValle, were both supporters of the bill and had their names on the respective bills as co-sponsors, and especially gave a "big fat kiss" to Fred Thiele, according to my husband, because he has been so helpful. I did not go into the lousy amended bill that ended up never getting to the floor.
I said that every time such a bill had been challenged in court the courts decided that the state had no constitutional interest in protecting the privacy or anonymity of a mother from her child. I said that I hoped I would see every adopted person in the country have the right to know who they were at birth before I died.
(I'm sure there was more but that's what I remember. Last night when I first posted this I forgot that I did get to talk about legislation and left that out. I woke up this morning before six and realized that last night--seven hours ago when I first posted this blog--I was tired and had forgotten that most important part.)
I must have gotten quite animated, because Bonnie asked if one could call Hole In My Heart a "rant." Well, that stumped me for a few seconds...and I said I hadn't thought of it that way--but did Frederick Douglas write a rant? She nodded, and conceded the point, and the interview was over. She led out of it with the Stones' "Satisfaction," which readers know that I mention as having been a hit in 1966, the year my daughter was born. That is the reference I think of when I hear "Satisfaction." I love the song, I love Stones, and readers know I had a fifteen minute interview with Mick Jagger before my life changed.
Then she came around the desk and gave me a big hug. Then the station manager appeared from some office stuck out his hand to shake mine, and said it was a great interview, complimenting both of us. In all, a good day, but I will admit the rest of the day I was exceptionally teary and vulnerable.
RUNNING INTO A FRIENDLY SISTER
|From the back porch of Cormaria, once a private home|
Basically, a young woman--after finally getting the truth, that she was adopted--from her parents when she was 21 became a nurse, went to work at the hospital where she was born in order to find out who her natural parents were. When that didn't work she got a job at the Catholic home where she had been adopted from, and while a friendly nun wanted to help her, she did not have the keys to the basement file where the nurse's papers would be. The adoptee eventually became engaged to a man whose brother was a priest, and the priest pried the information out of the sister who ran the home. The woman found her mother in California, waiting for her daughter to find her. The story ran in the June, 1974 issue of Cosmopolitan. It led to a huge influx of letters from adoptees and natural mothers to both ALMA and Orphan Voyage.
Then Sister Ann said she wanted me to come to talk to their Wednesday group of women who meet there, and there will be a book signing, and we'll do it after Labor Day or sometime in the winter. And then she gave me a big hug and we both went on our way.--lorraine
If any readers would like to help spread the message of Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption, please ask your local library to carry it, in both paperback and Kindle, available at Amazon. Most will do it if you are a card-carrying member of the library. It would be wonderful to have it available there, and since they won't hear about it otherwise, this really needs you to make happen.