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Our amazing video by Bryan Tucker.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ghost of Sangju: You Need To Read This Memoir



“...although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” 
-Helen Keller, Optimism



* * *

“I realize now that this is a family reunion, and I am the reason for it. I’m awestruck by this circumstance, by how important every person in the world is, and by how many people even a baby can touch. How could I have ever thought that I was unimportant? That nobody missed me? Every person is so significant, sometimes even more so through their absence.”
-Soojung Jo, Ghost of Sangju




Read this memoir. You need to read this memoir.

Ghost of Sangju: A Memoir of Reconciliation is a story that will resonate not only with those connected to adoption but with those connected to the human condition. It is the telling of not only devastating loss and suffering but also the overcoming of that loss and suffering.

Of all the memoirs I have read, this memoir stands out to me--not only because of its emotional honesty but because of its emotional vulnerability. It is not simply an account of one woman’s odyssey through adoption and reunion, but rather a raw and poignant expression of what the journey of an adopted life can feel like, and ultimately, of what it means to find triumph in defeat, redemption in tragedy, humanity in inhumanity.

Ghost of Sangju is a candid, stunning pouring out of one’s heart and life. It is a painfully beautiful portrait of a woman and a family learning to reconcile profound tragedy and redemption, despair and loss, pain and healing.

One caveat, however--Ghost of Sangju is not your typical “feel-good” adoption story. Hence, if you are an adoptive parent looking for a pat on the back or affirmation of your martyrdom and saviorhood, then this is not the book for you. If you are an adoptee looking for another adoptee lauding how simple and easy is adopted life, then this is not the book for you.

However, if you are looking for a book that is so daringly honest and emotionally graphic that you will feel--against your will--your heart despair and your eyes swell, then this is the book for you. If you are longing for a memoir that acknowledges the unraveling complexities and the unspeakable depth of emotion that characterize adopted life, then this is the book for you. If you want to do more than know what adopted life is like--but you want to feel what adopted life is like--then this is the book for you.

This is also the book for you if you embrace the reality and intensity of human adversity and heartache in the context of ultimate triumph and hope.

Ghost of Sangju will continue to haunt you, long after you have turned the final page--but not a haunting that keeps you awake at night with whispers of fear and terror, but rather a lingering that will simultaneously stir and soothe you with songs of longing and fulfillment, strife and peace, loss and reclamation.

Read Ghost of Sangju today and journey into a life that reminds us all, whether adopted or not adopted, that fully embracing one’s story is not for the faint of heart, but neither is it for the hard of heart. That true courage is not the absence of fear and despair, pain and sorrow, but rather the acceptance of their existence as a necessary bridge on the journey to love and wholeness, hope and reconciliation.

Thank you, Soojung Jo, for your courage, your vulnerability, and most of all, for your shared humanity.





Monday, May 18, 2015

Anniversary

In early April 1998, I found myself standing in front of the mailbox. I was sending in a registration form to the International Soundex Reunion Registry (ISRR). My search had officially started.

Just a couple of weeks later, my husband and I were enjoying some post-work, homemade margaritas on a Friday night at our house. Happy hour had officially begun and the weekend lay ahead in all of its no-work-required glory. I was three quarters of the way through my second margarita when the phone rang. It was around 8 p.m. in the evening.

The caller identified herself as a volunteer with ISRR, confirmed that I was the person she was trying to reach and asked if I had a few moments to talk. She explained that they had received my registration form and believed there was a match. Your father, she told me, had registered six years earlier.

She told me to grab a pen and some paper. Despite my tequila-induced haze, I managed to write down everything she told me. My father’s name. My paternal grandparents’ names. Where they had lived. It was so surreal and such an out-of-mind experience that I didn’t know what was the margaritas and what was simply the reality of the phone call.

My search was over. I had a natural father. And he had been looking for me.

I asked the woman what happened next. She told me that they would send him a letter and once they heard back, they would put us in touch with each other. I said “that’s it?” and she responded “yes, that’s it.” As I laid the phone back down in its cradle, my stomach started doing flip flops. I walked into the other room where my husband was watching television and sipping his margarita. He asked who had called and I told him.

Two weeks went by and I had yet to hear back from the wonderful folks at ISRR. So I decided to call and check in. A letter had been sent to my father at his most recent address which was an APO. Thanks to my Army soldier brother-in-law, I knew this meant that my father was in the military and that he was overseas. I also knew that if he was out in the field, it could take a while for that letter to reach him.

It took another week. On the afternoon of May 18, 1998, the woman from ISRR called me at my office. She had just spoken with my Army Major father. He was stationed in Panama, had to attend a function with foreign dignitaries that evening and wanted to call me afterward. The woman said if this was okay by me, than her work there was done.

That night I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. How do you pass the time while waiting for the most important moment of your life to occur? I ended up sitting in silence on my living room sofa staring at the phone which sat on the coffee table.

The phone rang just after 10 p.m. and I heard my father’s voice for the first time. His speech was strong and loud, just like mine. We had the same laugh. He was so happy that I had a New York accent. We stayed on the phone for three hours during which time he shared that I was his only child by birth.

The similarities between us were nothing short of astounding. My father had been an English major in college. While in school, he worked in New York City laying out newspaper pages. He found himself unable to complete his college requirements after losing me. So he enlisted in the Army. In 1998, he was overseeing the television and radio stations for members of the U.S. armed forces stationed in Central America.

During my undergraduate years, I majored in communications with a focus on journalism and served as the layout director of my campus newspaper. At the time my father and I found each other, I was working as a public relations representative for a nonprofit organization. Before that, I had worked as a newspaper reporter, an advertising account manager and a marketing copywriter.

Like father, like daughter.

I didn’t want hang up the phone that night. I was afraid that if I did, it would all be over. Or a dream. Or some cosmic joke.

It was none of those things.

Happy May 18th, Dad.


Julie Stromberg
When the time came to think about college, I decided that my career path would encompass either child psychology or journalism. Fortunately for all the young people out there, I opted for journalism and earned a bachelor's degree in communications. Since that time, I have worked as a newspaper and magazine staff writer, public relations associate, and marketing copywriter. My professional creative efforts have been acknowledged with several industry awards.

I am also pleased to be involved in several writing and advocacy projects outside of the office. As an adoptee, my advocacy work is focused on changing the common, societal discourse on adoption practices and encouraging reform that would place the emotional needs and legal rights of the children involved first. www.juliegmstromberg.com

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Adopted ID: A Haitian Adoptee Searches for Answers


Judith Craig Morency
About a year ago, I received an email from Judith Craig Morency. She had read my story of finding my family on my blog, and she was excited to meet another Haitian adoptee. In her email, she explained that she also grew up in Canada. She was born in Cap-Haitien, the northern part of Haiti, and she was cared for in an orphanage in Port-au-Prince for four months before being adopted by a white Canadian family in Montreal.

Judith and I share many similarities, including our desire to connect with our families. But Judith’s story is a little more complicated. When Judith started searching for her family, she didn’t have any family names as a reference, including her own. Only a few days old, Judith was found in a ditch and taken to an orphanage. In 2007, she returned with a camera crew to document her journey back to Haiti.


As I watched her documentary, Adopted ID, my heart ached. As Judith met with different women who claimed to be her mother, her enthusiasm never waned. She continued searching in the hopes that she would find a family member to help put together the pieces of her early life. The movie is not just Judith’s journey, but a revelation of adoption in Haiti. Wherever Judith went, she was met with families eager to claim a lost child. Adoptions in Haiti have created a lost generation that may never find their way back to their families.  


There were many scenes that I will never forget, but one that stood out to me was when Judith was staying at a guesthouse and met with a family who was there to adopt. Judith stood apart from the family and watched them hold their soon to be adopted children. In the next scene, she told the camera that she felt sadness knowing what these children would grow up missing. For all of the material things they would gain, they would lose a part of themselves that could not be replaced. Adoption ID is a documentary that shares the story of one Haitian adoptee, but it is the story of us all - the lifelong search for family and roots. Watch the trailer below and read on for our interview!




I’m interested in the history of your name. Your name on your birth certificate was Denise. Who assigned that name?


I was named Denise by the nun Soeur Yolande Poulin was responsible for me while I was in Haiti. She named me after her sister, something I learnt when we reunited in Canada in 2006. It was such a pleasure to meet her, as she was one of the first people who knew me. I thought it was nice she named me after someone so close to her.


When you were adopted, you were given the name Judith. Is there a meaning behind that name?


My parents named me Judith which is Biblical and means Praise be of God. My older sister, who was 3 at the time, named me Jennifer after her favourite baby-sitter, and they kept Denise as my other middle name.


Like you, I also  grew up in a predominately white family, neighborhood, and school. My situation was little bit different because I have five younger Haitian adopted siblings, and there were a few other Haitian adoptees in our church and school. What advice do you have for transracial families to raise well-adjusted black children in a white world?


There is always so much I feel I could share here, but to simplify it I would challenge parents to literally put themselves in their child’s shoes. Go into an environment that is predominantly representative of their child’s ethnicity and really immerse themselves in it just to get a sense of what life is like for their children. It’s not a perfect science because they have ‘white privilege’; however, it gives them a bit of a glimpse.


I think it’s also essential for parents to acknowledge that they won’t ever fully be able to relate to their child’s experiences. This can be a real challenge as transracially adopted children need to be able to have a safe environment in which to express the difficulties they may experience. Be aware that you need to be able to empathize even if you don’t understand what they are going through. Also, parents need to embrace their responsibilities of educating their children on potential difficulties, specifically racism. Pretending we are all colour blind is a very dangerous angle to come from. It’s simply not true. We don’t live in an altruistic society. Preparing your child as much as possible and then being there to support them when they have challenges is key.


Raise your child in a multicultural environment where they will see themselves reflected. How can your child be well adjusted and comfortable in their own skin if they never see images they can relate to? Positive role models who they can identify with is also very important. This can be done in various methods, but it is best if this is naturally integrated into your daily lives; such as having friends who represent your child’s ethnicity. Celebrating and embracing cultural elements into your daily lives also makes it easier for your child to embrace their culture and learn how to navigate belonging to two cultures.
When you travelled to Haiti, did you travel with anyone else besides your camera crew?


The camera crew consisted of my friend Sonia Godding-Togobo who was also Producer and Director. We had pre-arranged to hire a cameraman and driver/translator for when we arrived in Haiti and they were brilliant; Pushent and Jeremie are great guys! We also received great support from a Haitian journalist Guy Delva and a Brazilian aid worker. Although I would have appreciated having one of my best friends with me, I had support over the phone from two main friends who knew me incredibly well during my journey.


How did you plan your trip?


The planning process was two-fold. I managed logistics such as flights and accommodations while Sonia managed making contacts for a fixer and cameraman. We contacted the few people we knew in Haiti or those who’d been there in the past. We got recommendations and went from there. Once we got there, making certain contacts on the ground helped ease any areas that weren’t so clearly defined ahead of time.


I also ensured I did a lot of self-care ahead of time; I had several adoption counselling sessions in preparation and ensured I had a support network before, during, and after. I have a strong faith so it was also very important for me to have people praying for me throughout the journey.


Did you have the support of your adoptive parents?


My parents had always told me while I was growing up that they would support me if I wanted to search, but since I’m a foundling I think they weren’t actually prepared that I would ever actually want to search. So when I told them they were initially quite taken aback. I believe they were concerned I would get my hopes up and nothing would come of it, they are my parents so they are protective and didn’t want to see me get hurt unnecessarily. It took a while for them to fully understand why it was so important for me to go and search on my own and respect the journey I needed to go on. They did locate the Nun Soeur Yolande Poulin who had been involved in my adoption, and they took me to meet her in 2006. That was great but not enough. Once they realized I was going on my journey regardless of what I found, they were more supportive. I can appreciate that for many adoptive parents it’s a scary process because they are fearful that they are going to be replaced by the birth family, but I never had that intention.

Judith as a baby in Haiti circa 1970s


While you were in Haiti, you were able to spread the word quickly. You managed to get on the radio, and you were even on the front page of the local newspaper. How did you orchestrate that?


That was an amazing blessing. We were so fortunate to meet Jeremie who was a journalist and was our ‘fixer’ for several radio stations ahead of us arriving. Once there the journalist Guy Delva was also an amazing help. He is a very influential journalist in Haiti, and his support allowed us the opportunity to have direct access to decision makers who put my story on the front page and we got onto many more radio stations. It was all very surreal but incredible and really helped to spread my story quickly.


What prompted your move from Canada to the UK? Are you still close to your adoptive family in Canada?


Moving to London was something I was keen to do after graduating from university. I was ready for some adventure in my life and thought that working and traveling in Europe was perfect! What started out as a two year journey has turned into 10 years and many life changes. Interestingly having so much time to myself when I first moved to the UK did provide me with the opportunity to explore more of my emotions around my adoption and spurned me on to the search. England is also where I met Filmmaker Sonia Godding-Togobo who ironically is Guyanese-Canadian and resided in Toronto, although we didn’t officially meet until she also moved to England and mutual friends introduced us.


I’m very thankful for social media which keeps me connected to my family in Canada although it’s never the same as being with them. I do get very homesick for my family and I try and go back as often as possible. Two of my four siblings have visited me and my mother’s been twice when I had my daughters.


I moved to Florida for college and I met and married my husband who is a black American. I always knew growing up that I wanted to have a black family. Did you feel a sense of closure when you met your husband (who is Haitian) and started a family?


I went through a period in life where I was more attracted to a wider range of men, however, once I started seriously dating I ended up dating predominantly black men and I soon realized I wanted to create my own black family. The fact that my husband’s Haitian is such an added bonus. It provides me with the opportunities to get to embrace my culture in a way in which I missed out on growing up. I’m learning our native language Kreyol, how to cook Haitian dishes, and more about our culture in general and the way of life in Haiti. I love it all I’m so keen to travel to Haiti again, I fell in love with it!!


Judith with her husband

What is the next step in your search for your family? Where can people view the documentary?


I’m still incredibly determined to find my family. The next step is using the film to try and find them. I would like to screen it in as many cities as possible especially within North America particularly within the Haitian diaspora. I’m also in the process of completing my book all about my adoption journey. I’m planning on that to be out in November to accompany the film and coincide with Adoption Month. We are also in the process of organizing the film on DVD. People can check our Facebook page Adopted ID for updates.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Parallels Between Adoptees of Color & the Civil Rights Movement

Receiving emails from strangers is an hourly experience for me since the Netflix debut of Closure. However, rare is the occasion that I receive a two page letter as an attachment and even rarer still that the letters states; "I am neither an adoptee, nor an adoptive parent..." Such was the case from the correspondence from Dr. Rachel Harding, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver, the daughter of civil rights leader, Vincent Harding and an incredible conversationalist. Although Rachel and I connected months ago via email, it was only recently that we we were able to meet in person near the University of Colorado campus. What a joyful power lunch! 
IMG_1308
Rachel Harding and Angela Tucker
Rachel has long sought to include the experience of adoptees in to her Ethnic Studies classroom discussions. I am honored to know that watching Closure helped her to solidify her long felt correlations between the experiences of adult adoptees of color and American experiences of communities of color. In her letter she stated "...after many centuries of slavery, genocide, reservations, racial exclusion laws and legal segregation, the legal challenges of the 1960s provided an opportunity for the American polity to restructure itself into a more fully democratic whole. However, by and large, (with some important exceptions) rather than take up the very hard work of authentically and consistently challenging itself to really be a healthy multiracial, multicultural nation with 'plenty good room' for all of its citizens, mainstream US society instead attempted, in various ways to 'adopt' folks of color into the mainstream without fundamentally changing the way the power structure functioned in favor of whites." Her statement sounds awfully familiar to the experiences of transracial adoptees and international adoptees who are oft expected to  seamlessly assimilate to new cultures.
Our shared knowledge and joint experiences created space for a conversation of great depth, while maintaining a deep respect for the topics. Rachel is exceptionally adept in her ability to see the connection between the seeming paternalism in the relationships of both adoptees and people of color, essentially infantilizing people without regard for their/our growth and power. Our conversation bled these two narratives together without even a hint of devaluing, or minimizing the experience of adoptees, or the experience of people of color post-1960s.
Rachel was quoted at her father's memorial as stating: "He always encouraged people to expand their notion of what we tend to call civil rights. He made certain that people understood that the movement in the South in the 60's and early 70's ... was not a movement simply for civil rights, but was for freedom." Through reaching out and connecting with me, Rachel has followed in her fathers footsteps by freeing my mind.

Freedom comes to those who attempt to honestly connect our history to present day. Freedom will ring for transracial adoptees and others who are tagged as "illegal," "illegitimate," or otherwise less than, the day the public majority invests time in having open conversations such as ours. 

Please, Let Freedom Ring. 


----------------------------------------------------


About me: Angela Tucker is a trans-racial adoptee, adopted from foster care – born in the South and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She recently reunited with some of her birth relatives, and is still actively searching for another birth sister as is chronicled in the documentary, Closure.  Angela is a columnist for The Lost Daughters and her blog The Adopted Life and has been featured in Psychology Today, Adoptive Families Magazine, Slate.com, Huffington Post and other mediums.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Reunited, a book by investigative genealogist Pamela Slaton

Reunited: An Investigative Genealogist Unlocks Some of Life’s Greatest Family Mysteries did not turn out to be the book I thought it would be—and that’s a good thing.

I remembered Pamela Slaton from the documentary DMC: My Adoption Journey, which follows Darryl McDaniels of the hip-hop group Run-DMC on his quest to find his birth mother. In the film, McDaniels hires Slaton to help locate his mother after he repeatedly hits walls trying to find her on his own.

What I didn’t recall was that Slaton is herself an adoptee. She weaves her own search and reunion story throughout Reunited, along with the stories of her clients. Doing so gives credibility to her commentary on the fears and motivations of the adoptees and birth parents whose journeys she chronicles.

I had prepared myself for a dry guide on search techniques and instead was swept into the emotional chaos of reunion itself. Within the pages of Reunited are adoptees who have searched fruitlessly for years; late-discovery adoptees, including McDaniels; birth parents hoping to find the children they relinquished many years earlier; siblings who have been separated for decades; children and parents learning they have been lied to; and family members found in their final days. There are joyful reconnections and painful rejections and every degree of in-between.

Many of these stories unfold in far different ways than my own, yet there was something in every single one that I could relate to. As Slaton points out, “There’s a sense of identity you get from being adopted—a worldview that’s unique.” I found it easy to empathize with each of her clients as well as with Slaton herself.

Reunited reads like an anthology of perspectives on the meaning of family. Each chapter concludes with a lesson to keep in mind about the reunion journey, but an overarching theme runs through them all—as Pamela Slaton states so eloquently in the Introduction: “Searching for one’s origins means nothing less than validating one’s own existence.” Indeed.



Note: The author provided a copy of this book in exchange for a review.



KAREN PICKELL
Karen Pickell was born and adopted in Ohio in the late 1960s. She reunited with her birth mother in 2005 and with her birth father in 2007. Her husband is an adoptive father of two children, now grown, from his first marriage, one of whom was adopted from Korea. Karen and her husband live in Florida with their two biological children. She holds a Master of Arts in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University in Georgia; she has published poems, essays, and stories, and is currently drafting a memoir. She previously served on the board of directors of the Georgia Writers Association, as editor for the Georgia Poetry Society, and as associate editor of the literary journal Flycatcher. Karen recently founded Adoptee Reading Resource. She blogs about writing, adoption, and other topics at www.karenpickell.com.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dear Adoptive Parents: An "Angry Adoptee" Gets Vulnerable--The Pain Behind the Rage










I originally composed this "letter" on June 25, 2013. I never published it because it felt too vulnerable. However, after learning of yet another adoptee suicide just days ago, I feel compelled to share it. I share this with the hope of breaking through the culture of silence and euphemism in the adoption community. We need to normalize and create a culture of safety and acceptance for the intense and profound loss, grief, pain, anger, sorrow, guilt, and confusion that many adoptees experience and wrestle with on a daily basis, yet feel unable to manage due to stigmatization, marginalization, negative labeling, invalidation, ignorance, suppression, lack of support, etc.

Please listen.

Please believe.

#AdopteePainIsReal


* * *



Dear Adoptive Parents,


I have anger.

I have more rage than I can contain at times.

Sometimes it possesses me, and I lose all control.

I'm not proud of it. It's not something that I enjoy.

But that's just the thing--it is in these moments, when I hurt so deeply that all I can feel is rage and and hate, that I need those closest to me to be willing to see beyond it, to recognize that it's not something that I want to feel, that it's not something that I'm trying to inflict upon you. And in fact, that it's really not about you.

I know it can feel like it's about you. And I know that it can hurt when this rage and anger come out in unhealthy ways. I know you feel that it threatens you.

But if only you could see that it's not about you, even when it looks and feels like it is about you. If only you could see what is behind the rage. If only you could see what I am using the rage to protect myself from--pain. 

Profound, crushing, unspeakable pain.

It's about the fact that the wounds of being separated, left, relinquished, abandoned--whatever you want to call it--from the very ones who were supposed to hold onto me no matter what are just so deep and irrevocable and consuming that they crush me at times. 

It's about the rage and the pain that I feel that no one showed my original mother compassion, that no one was willing to help her in her utter despair and distress. 

It's about the confusion and turmoil I feel toward God and the Church when I am told time and time again that this was God's plan--to separate me from my own flesh and blood, from the woman who bore me in her own body--and yet I am supposed to feel grateful and joyful.

It's about the fact that there are moments that I am overcome with a grief so suffocating, so burdensome, so wild that I do not know what to do with myself--

And so I explode. I rage. I scream. I let all that I am feeling swell and erupt, like a torrent of terror and horror.


Because for so long, I have been taught to hold it in. For so long, I have been treated as though the effects of the trauma I experienced did not exist. Because for too long I was expected to be the "good adoptee" who is grateful and unaffected. Because for so long, I have tried to tell myself that I can live as an adopted person without feeling deep things.

For so long I have tried to do this alone--because for so long I have felt like Medusa with a head of snakes--my horror makes me untouchable. Unlovable.

But ultimately, what I need is someone who is willing to love me through the rage--not in spite of it, but because of it.

To see that the rage comes from a place of profound pain and hurt.

If only you could reach beyond the rage. I know it is a lot to ask, but it is what I need. 

Because there are times that I cannot but doubt that there is any human capable of loving me through such intense rage, such consuming pain.

And how can I blame anyone?

It is hard to love someone who feels unlovable.

At times, you may see a happy, well-adjusted adoptee. I may smile and laugh and hug and say "I love you--I'm so grateful to be adopted." But, inside, I am hiding deep pain, confusion, turmoil, grief, and guilt. And I feel trapped, unable to even acknowledge much less share this darkness within me. So I hide it. I cover it up. I cover it up so well that I forget that it's even there. I forget it so perfectly that I deny that it even exists. I convince myself that I feel nothing--other than what I am told to feel: gratitude, joy, peace. 

Although I have taught myself to forget--my heart and mind never do. Although the pain may be buried so deeply that everyone around me is convinced of the contentment I feel with my life, deep down my heart and mind still grieve, still hurt. All is well...until one day, something inexplicable begins to break through, seep out, little by little...

And unless, you are willing to see beyond the veneer or beyond the rage, my feelings of isolation and alienation may dangerously increase.

So, please, listen to me.

Believe me.

I am not looking for pity. 
I am looking for understanding.

I'm sharing this not for myself but for those who read it--for adoptees and adoptive parents and anyone who loves an adoptee.

I cannot help but think of the slew of adoptive parents--so many of whom claim to be Christians--that I have encountered over the years that reject and dismiss those whom they call "angry adoptees." 

And I think of them as I share these words, hoping that perhaps they will stumble across my words, and read them with the realization that these words could one day be the very words of their own children. And I hope that they will realize that how they choose to respond in such moments of intense emotion means everything.

To realize that it's not about them.

And that it never was to begin with.

So, please, let go of yourself and love your child without condition (who will grow to become an adult no matter what you do) through the rage and anger, the hurt and pain, the questions and doubts.

Don't fear it.

Don't run from it.

Run into it. With arms wide open.



Sincerely,

An Adult Adoptee



____________

*Risk of Suicide in Adopted and Nonadopted OffspringThe odds of a reported suicide attempt were ∼4 times greater in adoptees compared with nonadoptees.




To read more posts written by Mila at Lost Daughters, click here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rooted to Resiliency: On Mother Dreams...(in loving memory of my Mom, Janet Jue, 1941-1999)

DEAR SISTERS,


Yesterday would have been my (adoptive) mother's birthday. I was 19 when she was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. I watched her die beside me under our living room Christmas tree, and do you know that I have never been the same? It is one thing to lose a birthmother, and another to watch your (adoptive) mother die beside you. Do you think that I miss her?

Part of being rooted to resiliency (for me) is learning how to be in connection...even whilst living in disconnection. How can you keep your own connections active and alive (even, and especially, in the face of great adversity), thus keeping yourself alive in most vital ways?

Much Love, 

Jennifer

"ON MOTHER DREAMS...."


I dream about having a Mother.

Some people may dream about their favourite sports car, or winning the lotto, or becoming famous or about their retirement.  I dream of none of these things.

Instead, my dreams consist of much smaller things, such as...

  • Telling my mother that (yes!), I finally finished something that I was afraid to do...
  • Sharing a laugh together, or a memory.
  • Inviting her to my birthday party each year (she always used to get me an ice cream cake).
  • Telling her that I graduated from Harvard (I'm the first person in my adoptive family to have ever gone to Harvard) and being able to invite her to the ceremony.
  • Calling her when things go wrong, like when I accidentally had to be rushed to an emergency room in Norway after falling over my ankle running through a wild Norwegian forest.
  • Bumping into her randomly in the middle of the day on the street (this is one of my most common dreams).
  • Sitting together in a theatre.
  • Smiling together for a photograph.
  • Saying goodnight...or good morning.
  • Telling her how my day went, and listening to hers.
  • Remembering together, and letting her remind me of things I used to do when I was small...
  • Holding hands.
  • Sharing hugs.
  • Going to clothing stores and trying on outfits together.
  • Telling her about my latest writing project, about my Ph.D. research...
  • Inviting her to travel with me (this year I really wish I could invite her to Paris to do a writer's workshop on memoir writing, which I know she would have loved).
  • Rubbing noses together, and comparing the shape of our toes (so very different looking since we are not genetically related, of course).  Mom was tall, thin and gorgeous; I am short, petite and look absolutely nothing like my (adoptive) beautiful Mom.
  • Helping her decorate her summer house in Maine (now sold and gone).
  • Sharing my writing with her, and giving her feedback on hers.
  • Being able to celebrate Mother's Day.
  • Overhearing someone say, "I'm so proud of my daughter."
  • Even getting annoyed with one another -- I miss this as well.
  • Just being able to pick up a phone -- anywhere, anytime -- and being able to call her.
  • Telling her about life in London...

I once read about a lady who also lost her Mom whose greatest wish was just to have her Mom back for one day to be able to do mom-and-daughter things together. Just one day. One last day.

I cried reading that article.  
Because I never ever even dared to dream of an entire day with Mom. That would seem so greedy. So grand. So rich.  

It's just these little moments that I dream about the most, miss, yearn for, tenderly remember or witness between other moms and daughters...and wonder, "Who would I be without you, Mom?"

And also, I wonder, "Who will I become now that you're not here?"

It's small dreams like these -- of every day, oh-so-ordinary-but-extradordinary moments -- that I long for the most.


(Originally published in One World: Chinese Adoptee Links Blog)