Need help figuring out adoption relationships? Schedule a complimentary consultation with Lori Holden, M.A.
tummy mummy

Out of proportion sad

A girl from my high school class died the other day.

I am so sad. Out of proportion sad.

I would call “Linda” more of an acquaintance than a friend. We went to different middle schools so we didn’t come into each others’ orbits until high school. Still, we had mutual friends and we were both in marching band. I, straining to stay first chair in the flute section, and she, hanging out with the guys in the brass section. I remember her being what you’d call cute — adorable with a radiant and infectious smile.

Adoption Through High School Eyes

Linda became pregnant during our sophomore year by her boyfriend, a senior and a drummer. For months and months during her pregnancy, she carried her baby belly proudly through the hallways and classrooms of our high school. Never averted her eyes, never looked troubled, never gave off a whiff of shame. Other kids whispered, nosy but not mean-spirited. I remember being a little bit in awe of her and her ability to carry her head high, full term.

One day she wasn’t pregnant anymore. People whispered again, not from malice because Linda was well-liked; just out of simple curiosity. What was the outcome? The boyfriend had graduated, so I never knew if they’d stayed together or not. Word around was that they’d placed their baby for adoption.

Linda was the only one from my high school who became a birth parent during those years — that I knew about. She’s been on my mind in recent years.

Adoption Through Grown Up Eyes

I had always hoped to reconnect with Linda at a reunion, at the grocery store, at a museum or park. Now that I can see adoption from the inside, and with grownup eyes, I wanted to ask her about that time in her life. Was she as resilient as she’d appeared? How fully did she explore all her options? What kind of support was available to her? Did she experience the horrors of the Baby Scoop Era? What did she remember about placing? How much was being a “birth mother” part of her life, even now, all these years later? Did she ever reunite with her child? And tell the now-adult child about the manageable medical condition that eventually took her life?

I had the feeling that Linda would welcome opening up to me, that she might even get something out of this conversation, as I was well-versed in birth parent and reunion resources.

Or maybe that’s just my fantasy.

I did some poking around and found that Linda had registered to be found by her placed child, a daughter. What I am unable to find out is if that daughter ever sought to be found, as well.

I am sad for Linda and her family, including her husband and parented daughter. I am sad that I didn’t get to have that dialog with Linda, who had become joined to me via adoption at a level that exceeded being joined through 1st period Marching Band.

But mostly, I’m sad for her placed daughter. If and when she ever searches and finds, all she will have are missed memories of her birth mother, Linda of the sass, confidence, resilience and radiant smile.

Godspeed, Linda.

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

New Posts Delivered to You

22 Responses

  1. A sad, poignant, and timely post. After 45 years (more than 20 of those searching), I found my birth mother (closed adoption) on Friday. She doesn’t know she’s been found and I don’t know exactly what I am going to do next, knowing she is just a phone call away.

    Very sad, indeed (and possibly too for the parented child who has a sibling or half-sibling out there).

  2. (And wrapped up in that is – you’re waaaaay too young to be having classmates die. I’ve had that experience a couple times in the last 2 years).

    I wonder how the registry works – can family sign up too? It seems like there should be some sort of conduit to information if the birth parent dies.

  3. i’m sorry the loss of your classmate. my heart too goes out to her birth child who may someday look for her and find out it is too late to meet her : (

  4. Oh hon, I’m sorry for all the sadness .. and regret, this might bring up. You write with such an unwavering strength, Loz. So willing to look inside, where all the answers are.


  5. Oh Lori, that is so heartbreaking. And you still took the time to guide me during your grief. Your love is abundant. Soooo abundant! I hope that it somehow reaches Linda’s family and her birth daughter. However that may look, I wish that for all of you.

  6. Oh Lori ((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))) I too recently found out that one of my grade school friends had been killed in a car accident a few years ago. I was very surprised by the intensity of my sadness for “losing” someone I hand’t see in 25 years.

    And sadly, this is also every adoptee’s fear. That the ones we search for will be gone before we find them.

  7. So very sad. I am sorry that Linda passed away so young.

    A classmate of mine from college passed away this August. I was not close to him at all, but for me just the sensation that my contemporaries were dropping away, or could drop away in itself was very numbing. And I have been sensitive to death lately anyways.

    I wish you and Linda had had a chance to meet or talk about it. She seems someone who could have given you great insight into it. And I feel good about the fact that she responded to the meanness with utmost dignity. It talks of her as a person.

    There are things we see happening to the people around us when we are young and we are able to assimilate from those experiences years after the original experience.

    It is one of those things.

  8. That’s a rough one on so many levels. I’ve had out of proportion grief before — I think we all have. Also, if you haven’t yet read Mona Simpson’s eulogy for her brother Steve Jobs, I encourage you not to do it as you’re floundering around in your own grief pit. Trust me. I read it yesterday and sobbed all over again.

  9. Oh, Lori. What a beautiful post & tribute to Linda. I hope if/when her daughter did/does try to find her, the Universe will also help her find this post to show her that even those who may not have known her birth mother well were touched by her amazing spirit.

  10. I am so sorry Lori! You’re such a loving person and I can imagine the pain you’re feeling for your friend’s early passing and for her unfulfilled wish to meet her daughter. I wish she would have had the chance to talk to you because you would have been able to give her great support, insight, empathy, validation.

    Maybe Linda’s high-school boyfriend is also open to having a reunion with his daughter–it’s possible you guys will cross virtual paths down the road.

    Sending you love.

  11. Lori,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about “Linda.” Like you, she was an acquaintance of mine although I met her in junior high (middle school), but her passing has struck me too. I know there have been too many others from our class that have passed, but I think this one got to me because I found out about it up front, rather than in 5 years at another reunion.

    I’ve been surprised by the comments that I received after I posted the news. I think many of our contemporaries, classmates, friends, etc are coming to the realization that we are not invincible.

    Thanks again for you insight into Linda’s story.


  12. I am so sorry for your loss Lori. What I was thinking about as I was reading the sweet tribute to your friend, Linda is what I’ve been searching for in my life. I find myself staring at a picture of my late mother where she was obviously pregnant with me and being intrigued by her story. Two of my half-siblings were teenagers at the time and say they don’t remember her expecting, not just once, but again 10 months later after my birth. I would do anything in this world to find individuals who remember my well-liked, beautiful mother and could share with me from their long-ago perspectives. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live in a small mining town during the 1950’s and find myself in her difficult predicament–an older mother pregnant with her husband’s co-worker’s child. I am hoping that if Linda’s daughter ever decides to search…somehow, she will be able to read your poignant thoughts about her late mother. I especially liked the part, “carrying her baby proudly.”

  13. I am sorry for your loss. I can appreciate having “out of proportion” sadness at times like this. I often find that when it comes to grieving the death of anyone in my life (no matter how close we were), that it becomes an outlet for my pent up feelings and emotions. Kind of like watching a really good tear-jerking movie, it is a healthy outlet to have some “good cries.” I am not in any way trying to down play everything you shared, just commenting on my own experience.

    I will join you in fantasizing about and believing that you and your friend would have had much to talk about and learn from each other at this stage of your lives. I am sorry that you didn’t get the chance to reconnect before she died. Holding you, your friend, her family and all those touched by her life close in my thoughts and prayers. xoxo

  14. So sorry about the loss of your class mate. Both to you and to all those in her life and those who may someday look to be a part of her life.

  15. oh Lori, I am so sorry for this loss. I send all my best hugs to you. I know that Linda would have let you inside her heart and poured it out for you…I too feel such sadness for the daughter that will never know her birth mom, who will never get to hug her or ask her the questions she may have. I am teary thinking of the loss that is abundant here. Rest Linda….I hope all your questions are answered now. HUGS to you Lori xox

  16. What can I say that hasn’t already been beautifully stated by others here?
    I don’t think it’s ‘Out of proportion sad’ at all. You have a huge heart and you felt a kinship to Linda. It is truly sad that her birth daughter never knew this kind woman, this strong woman who never carried her daughter with shame.

    My deepest wish is that one day, somehow, Linda’s birth daughter will find you – another kind, strong soul, who will be able to tell her some of her mother’s stories.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to an obviously strong woman who did what she thought was best – not only for herself, but for the child she was carrying. I will hold her in my thoughts tonight and hope that maybe, one day, in someway, her daughter will find you so you could be able to tell some of Linda’s stories.


  17. I’m always amazed at the way you view things. I am sad for you since there are always so many unanswered questions when dealing with adoption, but to take it a step further when death becomes involved. You have a (good) way of wrenching my heart and stirring up my empathy.

  18. I am so sorry to hear this: both about the untimely passing of your bandmate. And also the missed opportunity for you to learn more about what her experience was like. And I’m sorry that her daughter won’t be able to connect with her. How sad…(((Hugs)))

  19. How sad. I agree with whoever said that there should be a place for the surviving family to also be open to being found. Maybe her biodaughter did find her. I hope so.

  20. I’m so sorry to hear about your classmate. As A. said, way above, I think we all like to think we’re too young to be losing classmates, & news like this makes us realize we are indeed mortal & our years on this earth are numbered.

    About a year ago, I saw a small item in one of the national newspapers from the small town where I’d gone to high school — a farm warehouse roof had collapsed from heavy snow, killing a man inside. I was shocked to realize I knew the guy — he’d been in Grade 12 when I’d been in Grade 10, & his younger brother was in my sister’s class. Good looking guy. I did some online searching & read more, learned he’d married his high school sweetheart & had three kids. There were pictures, & I recognized him immediately — older, greyer (aren’t we all?) but yes, still good looking. ; ) I hadn’t known him all that well, but it took me days to stop thinking about him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New Posts Delivered to You

Be the first to know about each new post. 

(Just a few each month.)