' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: h♥le, cont.: Telling the family about my lost and adopted daughter

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

h♥le, cont.: Telling the family about my lost and adopted daughter

This next section in hole in my heart follows the preceding blog, where I have just testified the first time in court for an adoptee hoping to access her original birth certificate. The judge has turned down her request. The year is 1974. My daughter was born in 1966 and due to living in another state at the time of her birth, my family did not know about her.

A few weeks later, I fly to Michigan to tell my mother. If I am going to be public, she has to know before she reads about me in a newspaper or sees me on television. Given our fight over college, spilling the truth to my father would have been much more dreadful, but his death two years after my daughter’s birth spares me  that humiliation. I tell my mother at lunch, over gin and tonics, and I see her wince when she understands what I am revealing. 

Her response is pure gold: Oh honey, how was your labor?  

In the time it took for a heart to beat, she flies to what she instinctively 
knows—that labor must have been hell, that I had been almost certainly alone. It 
was Okay, I say. I do not tell her about the hysteric who was held down and shot 
up with a tranquilizer.  

I tell her about testifying, that I will almost certainly do it again, that the 
press wasn’t there but they are likely to be eventually, and furthermore, I am going 
to write about this—under my real name. She doesn’t blink. I explain the law, 
sealed records, my hope to be reunited with my daughter—her granddaughter—
one day.   

“If I were adopted, I’d want to know,” she says straightaway. “Everybody must want to know where they came from—don’t you think? I can’t imagine not knowing, or wanting to know.” No matter how much she and I had once fought when I was younger—and we had, furiously, frequently—no matter how I felt I could not bear the shame of telling her of the pregnancy at the time, how much I felt I had let her down, no matter what had gone on before, she makes me proud to be her daughter that day: “You are doing the right thing, honey” she adds, tears glistening behind her bifocals. 

Telling my brothers is nothing after this. They were surprised, but subdued and accepting. You do what you have to do. We’ll stand by you.  

Weeks later, I write an Op-Ed for the Times,which, with an illustration by Jean-Claude Suares, takes up nearly two-thirds of the page “[R]esearch to date indicates that most natural mothers do not wish to remain 
anonymous to their children, and have a compelling desire to know who they are. 
I’m one of the statistics: I am a natural mother…. An ongoing California study of
more than a thousand adopted persons and natural parents includes data on close to 
a hundred reunions without a disaster among them. Even if the adopted individuals 
were disappointed, they reported that reality was infinitely better than endless fantasy.”  

Nothing happens. Absolutely nothing. Coming out was easier than expected, 
undoubtedly easier because I do not have a husband to embarrass. I don’t know 
what people said behind my back.  

But word does get around through friends and acquaintances, and people—
mostly adopted people—blow in and stop in for tea or something stronger. I’m still 
in my tenement on First Avenue, with a broken front door but a buzzer that works. 

One evening a woman I barely know comes by because she has to talk to someone: 
she is reeling with the news of having learned only weeks before that she is 
adopted. In the heat of an argument with her husband, she’d said something about 
“my mother,” and he shouted back: She’s not even your real mother! You’re 
adopted! The marriage was over, she says, but what about her parents, people who 
had lied to her for most—all—of her life? They told him, but didn’t tell me? What 
do I do now? I haven’t spoken to them since.   

Revelations like this always brought up my own fears—what about my 
daughter’s parents? Have they told her? Does she know she’s adopted? That there 
is me? Because I know nothing, every story taunts me, every hard luck story could 
be mine. --lorraine from hole in my heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption . Previous excerpts available in scroll; go to Home Page, and scroll down. 
THANK YOU FOR ORDERING FROM AMAZON BY USING FMF TO GET THERE! Every order is a few coins in our tip jar. Click on book jackets or links to get there. 

*Dusky, “Yearning,” The New York Times, March 1, 1975. Read it at: 

Adoptees' rights must be considered first

 Previous blog

Testifying to unseal the birth records of an adoptee

Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists
Compiled by the Vance Twins
on September 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Adoptionland: Brutal essays by adult adoptees expose the truth of 

intercountry adoption (absolutely compelling reading!)


  1. 4-14-70 The day of separation. No longer part of my body...now, only a place in my heart.
    5-9-17 The day my family asked if I had a secret child as someone traced her dna to theirs.
    With mixed emotions I verified with this stranger that I am, indeed, the mother who was not strong enough to say "the hell with the struggles I will face...she is my daughter." How can I ever explain how I wanted to know about her all these years, yet today I am so distraught I now am reliving the most difficult time of my life and don't know how to do this. Until now 4 people knew and there has been no discussion all these years...I am no longer who they thought I was and I really am not sure that I can open my life and my secrets that have been buried for so long. I am in pain and confusion.

    1. Anon, I was there when my 31 year old lost daughter contacted me. And there are many, many of us.

      I encourage you to find a support group. Talking to other mothers who have been there is invaluable. Concerned United Birthparents and the American Adoption Congress websites are good sources to find other mothers. Local adoption agencies may also know some groups. Read every birthmother and adoptee memoir you can get your hands on. Start with Lorraine's first book, "Birthmark" and then her second "Hole in My Heart." CUB and AAC have lists of writings by birthmothers and adoptees.



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