|From left; Jennifer Fahlsing, Suzanne Bachner, Lorraine Dusky|
and Marcie Keithley at the IAN 2018 conference in Indianapolis,
Racing to Records, The Final Lap
Just back from a conference in Indianapolis organized by the Indiana Adoptee Network where I talked about you in the keynote speech. I told everyone how understanding you were when I told you about Jane in 1974, six years after she was born. I can still see us in the restaurant--you picked the place--on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn. We ordered drinks and lunch and between the drinks and the time the food came I told you that I'd had a child and given her up for adoption and furthermore, I was going to be public about it. It was time somebody had to be public, and that was going to be me.
|My mother, Victoria Dusky, daughter Jane in rear,|
granddaughter Kim at 3, and Lorraine
And then you said: I think you are doing the right thing. Everybody who's adopted must want to know who they are, don't you think? I'd want to know.
I never told you how deeply those words affected me and now, even though you've been gone since 1999, I hope this reaches you somehow. I've talked about you before, and I put the story in my recent memoir, Hole In My Heart--everybody says "your Mom was great!" and you would have been pleased and proud, I like to think. Back when nobody talked openly about relinquishing a child to adoption, I was going to be public about being that woman, and you made it so much easier with your instant and unqualified support.
|Pam and Marcie at work|
If you are going to be a speaker--and open the conference--you had better have something important and of value to say. I knew most of the people who were adopted in Indiana will be able to get their original birth certificates on July 2nd this year, and I knew many would be searching for and meeting up with mothers from my era. So I talked about what it was like way back in the supposedly swinging sixties (not really so swinging) and later, what it was like after Birthmark came out in 1979 and I was on a book tour all over the country.
|With author Barbara Robertson and Chrissie Gaddis; Barbara|
and I traded books--she contributed to
Black Anthology: Adult Adoptees Claim Their Space
I said I was still pretty much a pariah in polite society. People were still throwing the equivalent of rocks at me. You were there when that young woman in Windsor, Ontario excoriated me with her overt hatred. And you were there when the adopted guy I'd just met casually a few weeks earlier had a dozen red roses delivered on the set of the first TV interview. He hadn't signed his name, and so there was no way I could track him down to thank him.
|From left: Becky Drinnen and Eileen Drennen (surely they|
are related, right?) I'd met Eileen at an AAC conference in 2003.
Suzanne Bachner brought her fabulous one-woman performance piece (and the extremely talented woman who plays her, Anna Bridgforth) The Good Adoptee. Yow! It was utterly true, funny, sharp, smart, fearless, sad and crazy funny at the same time. The funny parts were amusing only because they reflected the absurdity of what adopted people go through to find out who they are, or more correctly what their original identity is. The script is powerful and Ms. Bridgforth gave a helluva performance.
|Suzanne Bachner and Anna Bridgforth in talk back|
after the performance Friday night
Richard Uhrlaub of Colorado legislation, where all records are totally unsealed, had time for a long chat; Cynthia Mcguigan, who I had met at a Heart to Heart conference in Boston a decade ago, got to know one another, and I met adoptees and mothers just hanging out in free time in the large room that was always open with coffee, soda and snacks.
That's the nub of it. What's really wonderful about these conferences for me--I'm not in search and you know Jane is gone--is the total sense of relief and understanding that goes way beyond words with these people, strangers in one sense, but life--the right word fails me--partners, connectors, buddies, friends who quite simply just get it. There's always someone looking at me with a flinty eye among strangers--here in the Hamptons I think that some people think I'm only someone obsessed with these issues and thank god, I started reviewing theater here a couple of years ago. At a dinner party I never know if I'm going to meet someone who doesn't know my story and when they find out they are going to bomb me with questions. Spilling your guts about the most terrible thing that ever happened to you over and over is exhausting.
At a conference like this one, that part of my life is a given and I can cry myself and comfort others, and totally be free and accepted. Nearly everyone here was a survivor of tragedy and trauma, and being together like this makes all of us feel less alone, less victimized, less like an outlier in society. Much love, your daughter--lorraine
PS--My speech is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/INADNET2018/?ref=br_rs
|The brain trust and me on the left next to Marcie, Pam, Jennifer, Alison Plavchak and Cynthia McGuigan. Looks like Marcie and I got the color block (in black and white) memo that morning.|