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Adoption and Child Separation at the Border

On June 1, 2018 Rebekah Henson published an important thread on Twitter critiquing the hashtags #FamiliesBelongTogether and #Ke...

Monday, July 11, 2011


The next few days after my natural mom and I (re)connected were spent emailing each other.  Typically our messages were of the Question and Answer variety.  Favorite color?  Flower?  Weirdest childhood injury/illness?  It was amazing to find out that she's just as clumsy as I am.   We spent time going over the basics of the family.  I found out that my grandmother had passed away years earlier, my grandfather was remarried and I had two uncles and two aunts and several cousins. 
All of them knew about me...and now knew that she'd found me.  Slowly I was friended on Myspace by an aunt, her partner and one of my uncles.  Gently we'd email, mostly just saying how crazy this whole situation was.

My other uncle was being cared for by hospice.  His life was ending...cancer was killing him.  One day, as I chatted online with my mom she said, "Just got the call...Jim's run out of time.  I love you and will be thinking of you.  I'll write when I can."  And with that, she was gone.  I heard from her the next day.  He'd passed away that night.  Surrounded by his family.  Minus one.  That hit me really hard.  I couldn't go to the funeral...it just didn't seem right that the first time I'd meet the rest of the family would be at such a personal occasion.  But I grieved just the same.  Grieved that I was found...but still lost. 

The next week was quiet.  I knew that Chris would be busy hosting family at her house and I stayed silent.  Sent one or two short messages..."Thinking of you all" and "Hope you're doing okay"...but nothing more.  What more was there to say?  When the celebration of Jim's life had passed and she was able, we began writing again.  Back to the quizzes...back to talking about the past and the present and the future.


Oldfool has emailed me to say that he was moved by my last post on my aGrandfather. I informed him that he hadn't heard about the other one yet and that I would dedicate the post to him for saying he wasn't going away! So here it is for Oldfool and in memory of my other aGrandfather.
What's it got to do with Lost Daughters? My aGradfather was the descendent of a freed slave; he and his family suffered much loss in their lives including their heritage, names, country, country they were taken to in slavery. They knew loss, as we know loss, but with additional hardships,dangers, dislocation and smaller prices on their heads.Our borrowed history is sometimes as poignant, as formative as our other history.
During the American Civil War, loyalist slaves who were freed, were sent to Novia Scotia and from there the family made their way to Australia as free settlers and a new life.There are many stories of his personal successes, achievements, skills gained and his public acknowledgement. Pieced together it would make a good movie and like the stories of many adoptees; larger than life, full of amazing happenings and coincidence.
Through all that, my Grandfather was loud, noisy, humorous, exuberant and I treasure my memories of him.To me he was gentle, tender even, loving and inclusive. Not many were allowed to visit his shed which smelt of pitch, leather, pipe smoke and solder.I was an honoured guest and I had a firm sense of that as a small child. I felt special sitting talking to him or mostly listening; he had a large repertoire of comic songs having been for a time a Musical Hall performer and he treated me to the ones that were suitable or perhaps the ones he knew I would not understand!
He was a gentleman, always correct, always impeccably dressed and unlike other adults of the times, treated me with the utmost courtesy and respect. Being with him was a precious respite from the rest of a very real adopted life. We never spoke of it but he knew, he understood and he validated my experience. What more could a young adoptee be offered? His contribution was natural, unplanned and genuine and I value it, am thankful for it and am sorry he is long gone.I would love to have sat in his shed as an adult adoptee and asked him about his life, his learning and what he thought about the world. He too was an Oldfool, a very wise Oldfool. He still knew how to play, to enjoy life and the simple things; if we learn to hold on to those things in our lifetimes we've done well.