Ever on the lookout, I love finding adoptee voices that help me better understand the mosaic that is the adoptee experience. So many generous adoptees over the years have made an inestimable difference in the way I connect with my children. My entire family benefits when I listen to understand.
Enter Sara Easterly. Sara is new on my radar, but already an accomplished author and writer. I met Sara last month at the Tattered Cover for an author event around her new memoir, Searching for Mom. In this guest post, Sara explores a word that can roll off the tongue just as easily as it can pierce a heart, with or without that intention.
Sometimes, as Sara tells us, that word can be a sacred invitation to abide with someone in their grief.
Letter Writer: Hello, Lori. I just read your post about rejection by a biological mother, and I was hoping you might be able to give me some input. Recently I discovered I am a product of both rape and incest.
In the early 1970s I was adopted as an infant. Three months ago a geneticist confirmed that my biological parents are either full siblings or a father and daughter.
I had always known I was adopted, but had no idea this was my story. In fact, my adoptive parents had been given a social history about my biological parents that was a completely fabricated. The truth? My birth mother was raped and got pregnant with me.
A Shock, To Say the Least
The geneticist used public records to put together a family tree. I know my biological mother’s name and where she lives. Using this information, I discovered that my birth mother worked at a sexual abuse support center and even participated in a board of inquiry into sexual abuse in her community. That was about 20 years ago.
I am seeking input on whether a woman in her situation would want to hear from her child. As well, I found out she has children who aren’t much younger than me.
If I make contact, it could feel like a lot dumped on the plates of my birth mother and for my siblings (who are also my nieces/nephews). A complicating factor is, as I said, that their community was the site of a governmental inquiry into systemic sexual abuse in religious institutions and in families. Their mother (my mother!) has been public with her story of abuse.
I’m in a Facebook group for NPE adoptees ( Not Parent Expected — people who get this type of unexpected DNA results). This happens more commonly that anyone would think. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many resources. So let me ask:
Is it okay to reach out to my mother and siblings? I’m not sure what to do.
Reshma McClintock, adoption reform activist and founder of Dear Adoption, came to Denver on a recent Saturday. She was here for a special screening of a documentary that follows her inner and outer journey toward integrating pieces of her identity. That film is called Calcutta Is My Mother, and I recommend seeing it.
If you’ve ever listened to an adoptee explain their decision to search for the beginnings of their story, chances are you’ve heard them start with the disclaimer, “Don’t get me wrong. I love my parents. They are wonderful people. I just want to know more about me.”
The disclaimer seems necessary because historically, the adoption narrative has been crafted largely by adoptive parents. We are the ones who benefited from adoption, and our feelings are the ones our sons and daughters sometimes feel the need to protect.