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Monday, September 30, 2013

Serendipity -- An Unexpected Reconnection with my Sisters

This past Saturday I met my two sisters Janet* and Eileen* for the first time.  What an afternoon it was: sharing heartfelt hugs, shedding a few tears, enjoying many laughs, telling family stories, and combing through boxes and boxes of photos.  To know just how this unlikely reunion came about, you will have to read my previous post.  Many seeming coincidences had to come together, and my daughter Jenn was the grand connector.  For me, this unfolding of events is a type of grace that cannot be explained, just accepted and treasured.

       
                                My oldest granddaughter Grace looks just like my sister Janet


In these posts, I am giving my sisters pseudonyms, because my original mother is 90 years old and in fragile emotional health.   We would not want to expose that emotional fragility, or hurt her in any way.  Like many human beings, she has her limitations, and she does the best that she can.  Although she was able to say to me "I love you in my heart" ten years ago, she did not want to meet, and like any reasonable adult, I have honored her request.

My sisters and I can go right ahead deepening and developing our relationship -- something that all three of us very much want to do -- without hurting our original mother.  We are 68, 63 and 58 years old, surely old enough to decide who we do and do not wish to associate with.  Once again, why does any state entity or adoption facilitator feel that it is his or her right to attempt to micromanage adult relationships simply because adoption is involved?

The long-time practice of sealing the original birth certificates of adopted people is outdated, discriminatory, ineffective and immoral.  Every adult should have access to her own legal documents and be trusted to behave in an appropriate manner.  It is a well-established fact that original mothers were never promised lifetime legal anonymity, and most original mothers, actually, do want to know what has happened to their surrendered offspring.  Furthermore, adopted people are not stalkers intent on upending the lives of their original families.  In most cases, they are just looking for the beginning of their own stories, medical information, peace and closure.

By some type of grace, I have received all of these things in spite of the efforts of the state of New Jersey to keep my original birth certificate sealed.  I now know that malignant melanoma, a disease I am currently battling, runs in my family line.  I know that I have inherited my skeletal structure and my blond hair from my original mother, who is Danish.  I know that Janet as a young girl bears an amazing resemblance to my oldest granddaughter Grace.  Janet loves working in her garden, just as I love working in mine.  Eileen's favorite place on earth is the beach -- so is mine.  Eileen loves nature and flowers -- so do I.  The fact is that the three of us feel a profound connection to one another.  There is truly a bond here that transcends space and time.

And in another moment of grace, this amazing reconnection has made me appreciate my adoptive family, whom I have always loved, even more.  My mother and father have long been deceased, but how they loved each other, and how they loved my brother and me!  They provided a happy, stable home for us, and my a-brother continues to be a loving and loyal friend to both me and my husband.  There was always lots of love and laughter in my home when we were growing up.

Today, as an older adopted adult, I believe I have a wiser perspective about the institution of adoption that I ever had before.  It is not the people touched by adoption who are flawed -- it is the adoption system itself.  Until adopted adults are treated equally by law and with the respect they deserve, adoption will remain a terribly tainted system.  No matter where in the world of adoption you might fit, I would hope you would come to understand my perspective, which has been gained from years of experience living as an adopted person.  Please believe me when I say that there is plenty of love to go around, and that all of our connections -- to both original and adoptive family -- can indeed be sacred.


*Names have been changed to protect the identity of my original mother, who is emotionally fragile.


15 comments:

  1. I am very happy for you and I hope you'll be able to meet them regularly - do they live far away?
    I also hope that your treatment is going well, without too many side effects.

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    1. Each of my sisters lives about an hour and a half from me, so many future meetings are possible. I believe I will have a reprieve from treatment until the end of October, while my GI system recovers from the first round. The next drug is supposed to be less onerous -- I am gathering my strength for the battle!

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  2. I am ecstatic for you! This must have been such a wonderful boost in adrenalin. May we pray your body and spirit have been revitalized to fight the melanoma!. We missed you on Sunday in Brooklyn, and your name and praise and love were on many lips.

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    1. Thank you, dear Priscilla! How I admire you and all the good work that you do. This connection has given me a major boost. I am surrounded by love through dear family, friends, and this wonderful community. It feels good!

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  3. What a beautiful, intelligent and moving post, Susan. Thank-you so much for sharing this profound experience. Sending lots of healing energy your way!!

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    1. Thank you, Karen! I have long admired your writing, so your compliment means a lot! Please feel free to share my post widely, and please keep sending positive energy my way!

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  4. I am so happy for you that it was a positive experience, but I am angry and heartbroken that your commentary is necessary. This many years after the legalization of adoption, why are things like sealed records even still an issue? That's not even considering international adoption in which many times records are point-blank thrown out.

    Adoption can be a story of love, connection, and healing exactly as you describe. I just wish more people could see it this way. Please continue to speak out about your story, and perhaps people will eventually change their minds.

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    1. How right you are -- why in this day and age are sealed records still even an issue? All of adoption continues to be tainted by this outdated, archaic, and yes, barbaric, system.

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  5. Reading this post makes me very happy. :-)

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  6. Hi Susan, I'm over here via your message on Twitter. I am thrilled for this experience you're finally able to have with your sisters! Bookmarking your blog so I can follow your journey.

    Hugs,
    Linda

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    1. Appreciate the hugs, Linda! This connection with my sisters has been an unexpected gift, and it really boosts my spirits!

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  7. Loved your post as I always do. Love you too!

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    1. Jenn,
      What an important part you have played in this unlikely reunion! How blessed I am to have daughters like you and Kate!

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  8. Oh geeze. Tell me why I am crying reading this?

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