' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: The real end of The Deep End of the Ocean: Boy returns to his first family

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The real end of The Deep End of the Ocean: Boy returns to his first family

This post falls into the category of never write about a book until you've read the last pages--which I did last night finding that The Deep End of the Ocean (written about in previous post) has one last surprise in store for the reader:

The Deep End of the Ocean (Oprah's Book Club)The abducted boy, Ben/Sam after being found/reunited with his natural family/moves in with them but wants to go back to the father who raised him (his kidnapper "mother" is in the loony bin)/custody is transferred back, but then, a few weeks later...the boy, who's twelve comes back late at night to his natural family...with his suitcase. He shoots some hoops
with the older brother--the kid who has been troubled since the day he let go of his kid brother's hand in a crowded hotel lobby. And together they carry his suitcase back in the house, share a pizza, and go to bed.

He's come to stay. His other father had helped carry the suitcase over. He's back. When his real mother and father wake up in the morning, they will find him there. Home. Returned to them. Home.

Beneath a Tall TreeLord, I can't speak for adoptees. I hope those who read First Mother Forum and have some personal knowledge of moving between two families, will comment. Jean Strauss, author of Beneath a Tall Tree, comes the closest I know of someone who has emotionally accepted her birth first family more than others through her writing and film making. At first she writes about feeling an intense loyalty to the mother who raised her, who is deceased by the time she finds her biological mother, but as the years pass, she becomes more open and accepting and connected to the one who gave her life--who was adopted herself. And they find her mother's mother too, her grandmother.

My daughter, Jane, moved back and forth between both families for years. She once said to me that she felt like a magnet, the closer she got to one family/mother...the more she had to move away from the other. She made perfect sense.--lorraine
If this post is confusing, please read previous post: What's the difference between being adopted and being abducted? 
Jane will be here tomorrow with her thoughts on reunions.


  1. This, Lorraine, is a fear for me for Emma. Even though we've not managed to find her first mother yet, i tell her constantly that there is enough love to go around and that we should love with our whole hearts, like Jesus did. I do understand loyalty to a adoptive mother/father, but i would think that the love for a first mother is a love that should always be in a child's heart. Does there always need to be guilt for feeling the love that should be there? Does the dance of the forward and backward pull of feelings always have to be there?

    My husband accuses me of having my head in the clouds on this one. He chuckles at me as i am teaching Emma Spanish so she doesn't have to rely on anyone to speak to her birthmother. Some of my friends think i'm nuts for wanting to "share" Emma. (Really?!?! It's the most awesome gift to give her! Maybe i need new friends, lol...)

    I wish that there was a way for some reunions to not be like i've read. To know Linda's reunion story (and yours) breaks my heart. How i wish that those stories were different, that the outcome to those stories were different. I guess my main questions is "how to prepare everyone for a reunion and the feelings that go with them" to ensure that the reunion is all that it can, and should, be.

    Sorry for my Sunday morning ramble...

  2. I saw the movie; haven't read the book.

    The first time I watched it, I saw no "real" correlation to adoption. The latter few times I watched it (after my own search/reunion), I saw it so differently.

    Ben was never going to be "Ben" again. I know that was supposed to be the Happy Ending - that Sam, wrongly kidnapped, returned as Ben, but because of the lost years, Ben was gone. It was Sam in the form of Ben.

    That's why I don't think the ending of the movie was appropriate.

  3. Mei-Ling, how did the movie end? That Sam is returned to being Ben, without conflict?

  4. In the movie Sam/Ben switches between both families - he is aware his bio family sees him as Ben, although he's definitely Sam. He doesn't "try" to fit in, though - he is just himself the way he is. (eg. the milk scene at the dinner table)

    After a while he attempts to "escape" to his adoptive family because he doesn't feel like he belongs with his bio family.

    But strangely enough, the movie ends with Sam deciding to return to his biological family and refill the role of "Ben."

    (It literally ends with him bringing back his luggage and joining his older brother in a game of basketball, but I don't remember the dialogue. It was implied he'd come back to stay that time, though.)

    There was no conflict in the end. Based on the book excerpts, it played out differently.

  5. ""Ben had walked out of the waves...[as] Sam Karras, a fine boy any parent would be proud to have raised; but Beth and Pat [his biological parents] had not."

    I did comment on this in the previous post, but wanted to bring it up again:

    Is this implied in the novel, that "Sam" feels he is not good enough for his biological parents?

    In the movie it's implied that his biological parents are "fascinated" by what he likes/dislikes (watching him eat, play basketball, etc) and they attempt to make him feel welcome, which backfires when his older brother gets neglected because all of the attention is focused on the long-lost sibling.

  6. Mei Ling, what you describe is exactly how the book ends--Ben/Sam returns to his natural family. I thought I made that clear with the second post today. Suitcase, etc. with implication he's staying this time.

  7. And no, it is not implied he is not "good enough" for his natural parents. They want him back, they want him to feel comfortable, there is the slight implication that his adopted family (in the book, there is only a father, mother is out of it) is somewhat more classy or cultured than the natural family. The woman who kidnapped him was a deranged actress who had just had a miscarriage.

  8. Lorraine writes, "My daughter, Jane, moved back and forth between both families for years. She once said to me that she felt like a magnet, the closer she got to one family/mother...the more she had to move away from the other. She made perfect sense."

    Is it common for adoptees to move away from their adoptive families and move toward their birth families in reunion?

  9. Dear anonymous:

    I don't know if it is common but it is what happened in my daughter's life. She spent some summers here, moved here another time as an adult, but then moved back to Wisconsin, where she met and married.

    Now that I've answered that, are you an adoptive parent? Adoptee? First mother?

  10. I think you can guess where I fall in the triad. :-)

    Thank you for answering my question.

    Wish you the best.

  11. Dear Anonymous:

    Her adoptive mother really did not like my daughter as an adult. True. So she was always seeking her approval and affection when it was not forthcoming. That rejection deeply hurt my daughter. Even after she married in Wisconsin, her adoptive mother seemed less and less engaged with her.

    That happens too. Without the tie of blood, distance developed that my daughter could do nothing about. And that, Anonymyous Adoptive Mother or Prospective Adopter, happens more than adopters acknowledge.

    Instead they say: Why didn't anybody tell me. To which I say. Huh?

  12. Lorraine wrote:"That happens too. Without the tie of blood, distance developed that my daughter could do nothing about. And that, Anonymyous Adoptive Mother or Prospective Adopter, happens more than adopters acknowledge."

    Sad, but true. But it's not just the blood tie, per se. It's the fact that human beings are so genetic. I was astounded after finding my fmother to see how some of the most subtle nuances of my personality and character were inherited. It was obvious that my fmother "got" me in a way that my A-family never did. I know this isn't the case for everyone but unfortunately for me it was quite pronounced.

  13. Anon,

    Every adoptee processes their own adoption and reunion differently.

    "Adoption Wisdom" by Dr. Marlou Russell


    "Being Adopted, the Lifelong Search for Self" by Brodzinsky et. al

    might provide some insight for you.

  14. I think the real issue is not blood ties or adoption per say but rather expectations.

    Sam/Bens family of origin thought he should feel as they did about his kidnapping but he had his own ideas.

    First off let us clear up the class ethnic issue Ben's family is mixed ethnic origin

    His Bio Family

    Mom Irish Catholic (BLACK IRISH) Beth Dad Italain Catholic

    Abuctive Mom Cecil Lockhart Actress Adoptive father Greek American

    There is a huge class schism between Sam/ben when he returns to his "real" family his mom was a blue-blood yankee wasp and she married an up and coming immigrant greek for his brilliant mind and cultural ritual.

    His bio-family are well off but they came up from shanty Irish via the sweat of my brow while Pat's have come up through service literally a family business from .

    Going from Lace curtain WASP/Greek to Respectable Irish/Itailian Catholic was a huge wrench add to the issue his bio family expected Ben/Sam to feel robbed of his culture and identity and hate Cecil for stealing him. He felt sad she had stolen him but he also felt she had been sick and had not hurt him only ever loved him so had no issues with his mom.

    Beth eventually confronts Pat on his idealized " my son has returned to the fold, from being stolen by those evil child thieves" and how this narrative is actually hurting Sam/Ben.

    The story leaves several loose ends will Beth and Pat divorce, will Pat own any accountablity of supressing all his negative feeling and leaving Beth to underfunction in life while over functioning emotionally by symbiotically/ processing the "stuff" Pat won't deal with.

    The Book goes into great detail on how Beth's and Pat's marriage is a reversed mirror image of Pat's Parents marriage Pats Dad has all the emotions while his mother is the mind.

    This novel illustrates classic unhealthy patterns that may occur in marriage. Cycle's which the children internalize then act out, Ben/Sam abuction was a trigger which brought all this issues out but you guessed it the family would not look into itself the just scapegoated Beth for "losing her faith in God" her deep mourning was regarded as being selfishly self absorbed " It is like you finally found the reason to go bleak irish Beth, I wouldn't know how you would function without your holy suffering" Pat says.

    The was an epic novel because in the end people are still deeply flawed and broken but they have begun the process of making better choices Beth begins to sort out her own emotions and refuses on a aware level not to process Pats anger/grief while he sailed by on a wind of happy-go-luckly.

    Sam comes home to find out whom he used to be, Vincent finally lets himself
    off the hook for losing Ben/Sam so it was the beginning of real change painful baby steps....

    I hope this helps with processing the adoption.

  15. As an adoptee, it is sometimes difficult to know where you really belong. In my case, comments made by “relatives” contributed to my feelings of not belonging. I was told by a cousin that I would be able to marry one of our male cousins, because I wasn’t really related. My adoptive parents told me if something happened to them, they had arranged for their banker to take charge of me. This was someone I had never met and only knew by name. Needless to say, I found the idea terrifying.

    I did locate my birth family in my thirties. The experience was uneventful, although it did answer some questions.



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