I have a large life outside of adoption--with my husband to whom I've been married for almost 47 years, the wonderful daughters I raised and the two incredible grandchildren the oldest brought forth. I have volunteered with a program to introduce school children to the courts and I currently serve on a committee at my condominium. I play duplicate bridge once or twice a week. I read a lot, mostly non-fiction. I go to concerts, plays (spent Thursday afternoon watching a local production of "Our Town"), movies, festivals, political fund raisers, and fun things going on in Portland, Oregon where I live. I have traveled on six continents. Lorraine and the other natural mothers I know also have full lives outside of adoption.
Yet the truth is, all of us who lost a child to adoption also have a separate life inside adoption. For many of us it was for years a secret life, existing only in our memories and imagination. Eventually the secret became impatient to be free and we reunited with our lost child and introduced her to our families.
Still, though, our two lives never fully merged. My adoption life consists of my relationship with my daughter, her four incredible children, my adoption-connected friends, and adoption organizations. I talk about adoption mostly to other natural mothers and adoptees that I meet through adoption organizations and the like. While I work on adoption reform, my activism does not spill into my non-adoption life. I've occasionally mentioned I'm working on adoption reform or going to an adoption conference or write on a blog about adoption to those outside of adoptionland, and I am met with glassy eyes. These issues are of little interest to those outside our circle. I am reminded of combat veterans who say the only people who can understand the experience of war are those who lived it. Non-veterans simply don't want to hear about it.
Now while our non-adoption lives are separate, hey are acutely influenced by our adoption experience. Adoption weighs in, sometime unconsciously, on basic life decisions. Mothers tell us that they married the first guy they met after giving up their child, no matter that they didn't love him and he was abusive because they felt they didn't deserve something better. Some natural mothers refuse to have more children, believing that to do so would dishonor the one they gave away. Others have many children, trying to replace the lost child. Some choose to move far away from where they lived while pregnant to escape sad memories and prying neighbors. For some adoption loss leads to drug and alcohol abuse and other risky behaviors.
We tread on two paths, crossing from one to the other, switching our personas to fit the path we're on. We cope as best we can. For me, writing this blog and working to change laws to prevent unnecessary adoptions is part of what I do. That does not mean, however, that my entire life is circumscribed by adoption--jane
Lorraine: Yes! to everything Jane is saying here. Because I've been so public about my own (AWFUL) adoption experience since I published Birthmark in 1979, I know that some acquaintances think I'm "obsessed." It always comes as a shock, but now instead of feeling angry, I just roll my eyes and figure, Well, you obviously don't know me very well and move on. But of course there is still a tinge of a feeling that wants to tell them about the rest of me--community involvement, my journalism and magazine career, the dinner parties we go to and give, the other books I've written, my granddaughter, reviewing theater for The Southampton Press.
But what's the point? They are going to keep their opinion and probably nothing I can do will change their mind. But sometimes I also think: Was Susan B. Anthony similarly obsessed with a single issue? Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Angelina and Sarah Grimke, Frederick Douglass, Caesar Chavez?
In a friendly interview regarding Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption, I was asked if the book was a rant. I wasn't prepared for the question, but the life and work of Frederick Douglass popped into my mind, and I said: Well, would you say that about Frederick Douglass?
Fair enough, the interviewer answered.
Following Tambourine Man: A Birthmother's Memoir
by Janet Ellerby
"This was just a wonderful book that went from being heart-breaking to heart-warming, thank goodness. It's hard to understand the sexual ignorance of the 1950s and early 1960s, but it's all too true, and I know this because I was there. Looking back, I can barely believe how we girls were so naive and how the boys of that generation didn't understand our ignorance and so proceeded to act on their urges! It sounds very primitive, and I guess it was.
In almost the same year, my college roommate, also from San Marino, California as is Ellerby, also became pregnant by her boyfriend, but they were just a few years older and so made their own decision to keep the baby and get married. It was not an easy decision to make in those days, but she was spared the years of terrible psychic pain that plagued Ellerby."--reviewer at Amazon
THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ORDERS ANYTHING FROM AMAZON THOUGH FMF. TO GET THERE, JUST CLICK ON ANY OF THE TITLES OR BOOK JACKETS.