I read two important books this weekend. (I read a lot and I read fast, a trait that served me well during my mommy/scholar years). The first one was Birthmark by Lorraine Dusky.
Wow. I cried my eyes out towards the end where she goes home and talks to her mom about her daughter she relinquished for adoption. One thing that has followed me through the weekend: Lorraine is STILL fighting for adoptee rights and open birth records nearly forty years after she first testified. Forty years, people. That’s how long the Israelite people wandered in the wilderness. Isn’t it about time we do right by adoptees and let them have their true inheritance: the knowledge of their beginnings and unfettered access to their original birth records? While this book is out of print, it can still be found through your local used bookstore or through amazon.com. It is well worth the time spent reading it as it is still just as relevant today as it was in 1979 when it was written. Birthmark should be part of every adoption-reading library.
And then there was Ithaka.
The full title of the books is Ithaka: A Daughter’s Story of Being Found by Sarah Saffian. It was another profoundly insightful memoir by an adoptee about her natural parents finding her in 1993. Saffian tells of a deep and abiding relationship with her adoptive father, and her hesitancy to meet with her natural parents face to face. The writing was beautiful and evocative, and Saffian does a fine job of telling of her experience of being found.
As I read the book, it helped me understand a little more about what other adoptees might go through when faced with the potential of reunion with their natural familiy. When I picked my daughter’s family, I intentionally selected them because of her adoptive father. He was strong, but gentle. Honest, but humorous. A good man from what limited information I had about him. And from what others have told me about her relationship with him, she have always been the darling of his heart. I have imagined they have a close relationship, the kind of father-daughter relationship every girl deserves. The kind Saffian has with her adoptive father. Towards the end of the book, she says something to the effect of “my father only knew my birth mother as the one who abandoned his precious daughter.”
I’ve wonder how my own relinquished daughter’s adoptive father feels about me. After all, what he knows about me, really, is that I walked out of Bishop Felix’s office at the Orem Institute of Religion in March 1993 and I never came back for my daughter. I can only imagine what he thinks of a woman like me, a woman who can do that to her own daughter.
My eyes were opened even more this weekend and I can feel the fog of life a bit more. Lorraine helped me understand I am not alone and I am (unfortunately) not the first one to walk this road and Sarah helped me understand what it is like to be found.