Sunday, January 8, 2017
January 9th, 2017: Opening Day in New Jersey
This is the cover of a book I gave to my mom's sisters -- the ones she finally found when she was 63 years old -- two years ago. My mom had passed away the year before, having only known her sisters for eight months, but their bond was deep, and our bond continues. The book was simply photocopies of my mom's journal from when she was 13 years old, allowing her sisters a glimpse into her life, into the years they missed together.
My mom's life was a happy one, as maybe you can tell from these few photos (and isn't she cute? I love her sweet face in the photo on the right), but like many adoptees, she also had a bone-deep need to know her roots, and a persistent hope, one she couldn't even admit to herself until actually reunited with her sisters, for a connection to these roots. She spoke out about this for the last 15 years of her life, and even in those last months, when all other things by necessity had to fall away, she continued to fight for adoptees' rights to know their identities (or at least try to know without government interference).
That is why my heart is so full tonight, and why it will be so difficult for me not to be in Trenton, New Jersey tomorrow for the celebration of "Opening Day" along with the many other advocates who fought so hard for this right over the years. Pam Hasagawa, the leader of NJCARE, the organization with which my mom was involved, has tirelessly persevered for more than three decades in order to see this day. (Click HERE to read more about Pam). My mom often spoke about Pam's incredible integrity, and I have seen her faith and strength myself. I am so happy for her. My mom's brother (with her in three of the pictures above) and my dad will also be in Trenton tomorrow to celebrate, and to mark this occasion for my mom. It is so important.
If you are an adopted person from New Jersey, you can go to NJCARE's site for the paperwork to order your birth certificate (Click HERE).
In July of 2013, less than a week after she was diagnosed with stage 4 malignant melanoma, my mom wrote about adoption and what it had meant in her life. As she pondered adoptees' rights to know their full identities, she wondered if this day, Opening Day, would ever come. Reading her words again now, I am so heartened that it finally has.
Throughout my life, I have learned that the road to peace is never through falsehood, and I think that is the reason I have always felt so devoted to truth, fairness and social justice.
It is truly misguided and so very wrong for the state to attempt to block two grown adults from knowing the truth about each other's identity -- especially when those adults share such a deep, primal connection. We cannot and should not ever block a human being's path to truth, peace, forgiveness and love.
I was told through the agency that placed me that my original mother did not want any contact with me. With help from several enlightened souls, I found her on my own and sent her a sensitive and compassionate certified letter, asking her also for medical history. As a human being facing a medical crisis 16 years ago, I felt that I was worthy enough to at least ask for information. I received it, and eventually my original mother told me over the telephone that she had always loved me "in her heart." Not every adopted person will seek out her original parents or get even that far in the journey. Some will get further.
But how dare the state block the possibility for that love to be expressed? How dare they? Let people -- adults with minds and souls of their own -- find their own way. Facing a critical illness at the moment, I can tell you with certainty that there is nothing that is more important than love. Nothing. Please, let's let the light, the truth and the love overcome the misguided fears and the ideology.
Congratulations to all those who have fought so hard for this light, truth, and love. May it surround you tomorrow as you celebrate, and may it continue to grow for us all.