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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Surrounded by Love -- No More Secrets




          No more secrets -- my beautiful sisters Carol Dowlen (left) and Jo Pierson (right)


I returned home several weeks ago from a long and exhausting day at the hospital where I am being treated for metastatic melanoma to find a large package on my front step.  My husband Ty brought it inside and opened it.  Inside was a soft, warm throw from one of my recently-found sisters, Carol, along with homemade Christmas cookies for my grandchildren.  "Thinking about you with love," the note said.  "Thought you could use this throw as you rest."

A few days later, after I got a CAT scan showing that my pancreas was inflamed and that we would have to suspend treatment for a while, my other sister Jo, who I first met in late September, sent me a slide show she had assembled from pictures on my daughters', her family's, and my own Facebook pages.  Entitled "Surrounded by Love," it featured uplifting music and pictures of our families, my grandchildren, and a few other scenes that stir my soul, like the waves rolling in, one after the other, at the beach.  (To see Jo's creative talent, click here.)

Both Carol and Jo have surrounded me with love since we found each other in September, and ours is a reunion story that seems quite miraculous to us all.  (You can read more about that unfolding of events here.)  But as my daughter Jenn says, "It shouldn't take a miracle to find people to whom you are related by blood."  In New Jersey, thanks to Gov. Chris Christie's veto of adoption reform legislation in 2011, the birth certificates of adopted adults remain firmly sealed, and adopted people attempting to unearth their own histories must continue to circumvent the law.

I'll point out here what I've explained in other posts -- that I first contacted my original mother over ten years ago, and while she did share some information, she had no desire to meet.  When I found my sisters in the fall, we did not tell my original mother about our reunion, as she was elderly and in frail health, and we had no desire to hurt or upset her.  But as Carol said to me during one of our early phone calls, "I am 68 years old -- what is the point of all this secrecy?"  In what other area of life, except for adoption, are adults treated like perpetual children, incapable of handling the most personal details of their lives with competency and sensitivity?

When I first started writing about my sisters, I used pseudonyms for them, out of respect for my original mother's desire for privacy.  But my original mother passed away at the end of October, and there is no one left to hurt.  My sisters' love for me has been such a gift during this emotionally and physically trying time for me, and I believe very strongly that our meeting has an unexplainable spiritual dimension.

As Carol wrote to me last week, "Susan, you have brought such joy to my life in this short time.  I do not mind at all your using my real name on your blog.  I am so glad everything is out in the open now -- no more secrets."

Carol Dowlen and Jo Pierson, I am so proud to call you my sisters.  Your presence in my life does not replace the love I feel and have felt for my adoptive family, but it adds to that love in such a profound way, and it has given me such a lift as I battle this cursed disease.

And Gov. Christie, it is not often in life or in politics that you have a second chance to do the right thing and be on the right side of history.  You in all likelihood will have that chance should adoptee rights legislation be approved in the Assembly, just as it was during the last legislative cycle.  As I'm sure you know, it has already passed overwhelmingly in the Senate.  I hope and pray that you will come to understand this issue for what it is -- the human right for those affected by adoption to navigate their own personal histories without government obstruction and interference.









26 comments:

  1. This is a very powerful and thought provoking message that you've chosen to share. Perhaps it would move Gov. Christie to do the right thing this time around.

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    1. We can only hope! This seems like such a no-brainer to me.

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  2. Amen, Susan! Happy New Year and my heartfelt wishes for your continued strength. I want you to have many more years surrounded by the love you have richly deserved.

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    1. God bless you for all that you do, Priscilla! I really value all the friends I've made in the adoption reform community and the support that I have received here.

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  3. I'm glad that you are enveloped by love from your amazing sisters, but it's a shame that it took so long for you to find each other.

    I called the Governor out on the Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lori-holden-/ready-or-not-glasnost-is-_b_4296934.html

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    1. I read and loved your post, Lori. Change comes way too slowly, but it is coming!

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  4. This is beautiful. So glad for you and your sisters. Praying for complete healing and strength. Hugs! Psalm 103:2-5.

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    1. Thank you, Peach, for your support and your continued prayers.

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  5. You did a lot to find your biological family but the critical timing of it all coming together is extraordinary and wonderful. I am very happy for you and am praying for you and your husband/my brother for your complete recovery. All my love.

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  6. It was a miracle, but it shouldn't have taken a miracle! I hope Governor Christie does the right thing. Until then, praying hard for our second miracle--complete recovery. And yes, you are surrounded by love. Always.

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    1. I have been blessed by two fabulous daughters!

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  7. Just completely in awe at this beautiful story of finding your sisters . . . I am praying for your continued recovery. Love to you, Susan.

    Lynn

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    1. And love to you too, Lynn. This on-line community means so much to me.

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  8. Great post. Hope you are feeling better soon!

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    1. Thank you, Terri. The year 2013 brought blessings for us both!

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    2. Susan, may you heal and be whole again so you can catch up on the time lost with your sisters. Thankyou for sharing your wonderful story. I am an adotee born in NJ,l effected by governor Chris Christie's heartless decission.

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  9. I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE BACK !!!

    As I read this all I kept thinking was "Why are these records sealed in the first place? Who does it hurt if Susan knows and can develop relationships with those who share her familial blood ties?" And the only answer I could come up with is the only people who need the closed OBCs are those who make their money off of adoptions and depend on the secrets and lies to keep their business going.

    I'm so happy you have developed such a wonderful relationship with both of your siblings. Wishing you a full recovery. Happy New Year!

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    1. So good to hear from you, Robin! As we both know, sealing records from those they pertain to directly is insane.

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  10. I am so thrilled for you and your sisters, Susan, that you now can share in each other's lives! And best wishes on your healing journey. Nothing like a soft, loved throw and some homemade cookies to help you with that, IMO! ;-)

    Also, thank-you for once again telling your story and speaking out. I am going to link this today to the Access Connecticut FB page. We are committed to getting access passed in Connecticut as well, and will do what we can to help our neighbors and friends both in NJ and across the country.

    Blessings for a wonderful new year!

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    1. Thank you Karen! I follow and always enjoy your writing. Although change is agonizingly slow, this on-line community gives me great hope!

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  11. Susan, Thank you for continuing to include your friends and extended family in the adoption world on your journey. I wept when I read this post; your sister's statement, 'It shouldn't take a miracle to find people to whom you are related by blood" says it ALL.
    Holding you in my prayers and so thankful for the love that surrounds you from everyone who cares about you!

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    1. Thank you for following this blog, Pam, and thank you for all your tireless efforts to advance adoptee rights.

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  12. Like you, I found my biological half siblings after years of searching. I now have two families ---- what a blessing. I am in Missouri --- a State whose Legislators are still influenced by old myths and lies. We will continue to try and educate these folks about basic civil rights for all people ---- adult adoptees should be considered responsible adults and not disregarded due to their birth history. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  13. Since we so often hear about natural families not being receptive, it is a blessing for this first mother to hear that you are loved and accepted. My family did the same for my daughter, and she was constantly amazed. xx

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  14. Beautiful, powerful, right on target. Thank you, Susan, for so elegantly and eloquently speaking your truth--and what is *the* truth. Stay strong.

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    1. Thank you, Maureen. Both my daughter and I enjoy your blog so much, and we appreciate all your efforts to advance adoptee rights. I don't know how long it will take, but surely change is coming!

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