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Friday, June 12, 2009

they're not all happy endings

Oprah and others of that ilk love to sensationalize reunions between adopted children who search for their birth parents and those parents. not all of these stories are prime time material. here's one i know of:

It happened about this time of year. Maybe even on a day like today, when the world is so bountiful and alive, so fertile, that the very air is heavy with the reproductive cells of plants. Amoeba and behemoth, plant and animal, we all strive to be immortal. To live on through our children.

Did she savor the heat of the sun on her face that day, inhale the scent of her own skin as it browned and glistened with perspiration? It used to be said that women don’t sweat, they glisten. All those years ago, it wasn’t considered laydylike to sweat. And one must behave like a lady. But, no one would call her a lady. Ladies, in the fifth decade of the 20th century, didn’t cohabitate with men they weren’t married to.

After that day, and for many days, many weeks, many months, perhaps even many years, there were few such beautiful days. The shine of summer obscured by clouds - of shame, of accusation and denial. Clouds of anger and of fear. Confusion. Hate and self loathing. Frustration and loneliness. The words she speaks are not believed. Words of one ‘loose’ woman against the words of six men. Six men who arrived on her farm, that day in early June, to ‘persuade’ her that she did not want to live there. There was some disagreement about whether one so young, and so …. female….. should inherit such a place.. The police would not believe one disreputable woman, whose story differed so much from the story of six ‘upright’ men. This is, after all, a democracy.

She didn’t extinguish the spark that began in the darkness of that day. Did she perhaps try, unsuccessfully? The spark became a flame. The flame grew till she felt she was merely a host for this all consuming fire. Did she hate it? Pity it? Wish only to be rid of it? Did she take extra pains to care for her body, knowing another life was dependent on her? Or did she deliberately abuse herself, hoping to put an early end to the humiliation that was more and more evident as time passed. As her frame expanded. Her shame was as big as her belly, which was as big as her shame, which was as big as her belly…. One fed the other. Till the darkest day of all, when she was finally separated from it, in physical and mental anguish such as she’d never before known existed. Now it…. It being a she…. was someone else’s problem. She never saw her child again. Nor did she make any attempt to know who she had become. Why would this unwilling mother choose to be reminded of what was the worst time of her life?

The child of that dark union lives now, wrapped with exquisite care, in layer on protective layer of tenderness. The tiny, fragile infant is enfolded within the sturdy, sun browned body of a woman. Inside, where no eye sees, there are gossamer layers of trial and error, thick layers of caution and of watchfulness. Layers of injuries healed, of hard, lonely lessons learned. Layered upon layers, laid with painstaking care, making her strong. Strong of heart and of body and of mind. Or so she thought, – but nothing could prepare her for the shock of learning her beginnings. In the passing of a few numbers on her digital clock, during the course of one telephone call, she has become someone she doesn’t know. She isn’t who she thought she was. She is no longer sure who she is.


susan said...

I tend to think these mother and child reunions would generally tend to be uncomfortable at best. It wasn't unusual when I was growing up that a teenage girl would disappear for a few months on a sudden 'visit' to distant relatives. Not until I was 13 did I learn about homes for unwed mothers where frequently they'd be set to work in unfriendly conditions by being farmed out to wealthy homes as unpaid house cleaners. My mother rescued such a girl, the eldest child of some friends whose father refused to allow her return in that condition. I'd witnessed the beating and kicking when he learned she was pregnant. It's always been the girl's fault. She gave up the baby at birth, likely never wanting to be reminded of those dire months again, and I can't imagine her being thrilled at a future meeting with all that could entail.

Much of the current trend has been publicly driven by the medical family history craze but I still don't think it's a good thing. Perhaps I'm just not as open minded as I like to think.

Seraphine said...

that was beautifully written.
and i think people do what they need to do.
to make sense of their lives.
even if it consumes them.

lindsaylobe said...

I guess we need not be surprised since just as there are many bad children’s experiences so some adoptees may encounter distress finding out about the biological parents or events then.

Contrary to the popular notion there is always a happy ending to new knowledge of beginnings -the reverse amy be true at times as you have eloquently expressed.
Best wishes

Salt Water said...

That is at least a great read. I have waved my magic pencil three times to make all the pain go away. I know this will not really help, but please know I pray for your peace, joy, and forgiveness.

I do hope some good is found somewhere in the story. I am a male with no known biological children (I do have stepdaughters). If I were to find out that I had a child, I think it would give me great joy.

Yet, I remember my friend Tom. He is one of the smartest people I know. He has a PHD and a file of all his adoption records. He chooses not to contact his bio-mom.

You probably understand him better than I. I have met the mom who raised him. She is fantastic. She even gave him the file.

Good luck to whoever the story was about.

gfid said...

thanks, all.... the ReStore devours every minute these days... not deliberately ignoring you.... long days, hard work, very little time @ the computer.

no, not a happy ending... so far, but i guess it's not over yet. i just had to rant about it, cuz i've always hated those sensational reunion shows. don't understand why anyone would want anything so personal broadcast to millions of strangers.