|Jane, DMC, and Jeanette Roberts at AAC 3-8-07|
I bought his just published book Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide: A Memoir because I wanted to learn more about his adoption experience and as way of thanking him for standing up for adoption reform and taking the time to pose with me and Jeanette in a picture. I'm glad I did.
DMC tells of pioneering rap music in the 1980's with Joseph "Run" Simmons and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell performing as Run-DMC. At the height of his success, he struggled with depression, anxiety, anger, and thoughts of suicide, which led to severe alcoholism.
After a bout with pancreatitis in 1991 when he was 27, DMC entered rehab and he remained sober for nine years. In 2000 he decided to pull together his life story and called his mother to get details of his birth. She gave him the requested information but then called back to tell him "You were a month old when we brought you home. Darryl, you're adopted ... and we love you very much." While the information explained why he didn't look like other members of his family, it brought new anxieties--Why was he given up? Didn't his natural mother love him? Wasn't he worth making an effort to keep? Wasn't he good enough?
Eventually he went to counseling, joined a support group at the urging of his friend, casting director Sheila Jaffee, who was also an adoptee. He discovered, as many of us do, that he was not alone but part of a large, diverse community struggling with adoption. He decided to search for his mother--he knew he had a right to his story in spite of laws designed to thwart search. He re-entered rehab in 2003 because he wanted his mother to see him at his best.
He found his mother in 2004. She explained that she had had a baby at 18 and lived with her parents and siblings; three years later she became pregnant with DMC. They had no room for him and no money for him. She gave him up so he could have a chance in life. He and his mother became close. While his adoptive father had died two years earlier, he felt guilty feared hurting his adoptive mother who he loved dearly. So he began taking her out for dinner, lunch, breakfast, hoping to reassure her. Then she told him, "I don't want to see your ass no more. You don't have to do this. I get it." He realized he could love both mothers; he didn't have to choose. DMC has continued with his music and began drawig cartoons. Art was his first love. He also works with children who have been adopted or are in foster care.
What struct me about DMC's story was how familiar it was. Anxiety over the unknown. Who am I? Why was I given up? Uncertainty about searching. Frustration with archaic laws. Fear of rejection. All of the above. The meeting-- discovering astounding similarities, books, an identical Buddhist statue, a tattoo on his mother's arm in Spanish for beautiful, a tattoo on his arm with his wife's name, Zuri, which means beautiful in Swahili. One half brother looked like him, another brother shared his passion for exercise, a sister who had the same obsessive-compulsive disorder like he did. He writes honestly and openly of the conflicted loyalties he felt, about friends who couldn't understand what all the fuss was about, and hearing over and over, "Your real parents are the parents who raised you. Get over it." Only someone who is adopted can understand all the complex emotions and thoughts that come with being relinquished and raised in a family other than one's original, biological one.
Unlike some other adoption reunion stories, DMC's story has a happy ending, in so far as it ends. As we know the roll out from adoption really never ends until life ends, and then it may continue onto the next generation.
Fans of DMC's music will read the book to learn about the world of rap. In the process, they will learn about the impact of adoption. DMC is one of the few celebrity adoptees who has told his story publicly and spoken out for unsealing records. For this alone, I thank him.
Of course, the book is much more than DMC's adoption story. His purpose in writing the book is to pass on the lessons he has learned about coping with emotional difficulties and life's adversities. Face reality; don't make excuses; be true to yourself; don't worry about losing friendships because you made a choice that was good for you; and most importantly, you're the one who has the power to heal yourself--jane.
Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide: A Memoir
“Remarkably candid, very hip, and genuinely soulful, McDaniel’s star-studded memoir of depression and hopelessness ultimately transitions into a reflective, inspirational mediation of rebirth and renewal.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
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