Some images represent completion. This is one of them.
Six months ago, I made the decision to register to find my birth daughter. At 15, I became an expectant father. For the reasons associated with the shame of teenage pregnancy, and of course because we were no more than children ourselves, the mother was sent to a home for unwed mothers. The child was born. A girl. Adopted two weeks later. For the birth mother and her family. Story closed. Secrets kept. For me, a shadow cast upon my life, informing choices in countless conscious and unconscious ways.
Twenty years later in 1994, the nagging sense of wanting closure had me speak to the birth mother, my teenage lover. I wanted to know if she was interested in registering to find her daughter. She was clear about it. No. That story is over. Do you have children, she asked. I thought the question odd given the circumstance, but I knew what she meant. No I said. If you had children, you would understand. She had three daughters. Teenagers. It was clear the story was an emotional minefield for her. So I dropped the search. At that point it required the birth mother to assent to the contact. I would not disrupt another life to find closure to my own. The next year my wife and I had a son. The shadow was there, but I would let it rest.
January. This year. A month after having separated from my wife of 22 years. My life totally ajumble. I found myself in New York. I was teaching, and one of my students was an adoption rights activist. I shared my story. She said simply, this is not about the parents, it is about the child. The child has a right to know about their parents if they need to know. Something snapped. Within the week. I registered. Within four days I received a name. I wrote a long letter. A few days later, a letter came back. She had been waiting all her life for my letter.
And we entered each others lives. A million similarities. Decades of stories to unpack. She a parent, like me, of an 18 year old. We came together in May. All four of my children. Son, Birth Grandson, Birth Daughter, Daughter. We start a project this month to look at our story in the context of all these narratives of adoption.
We can say our lives are great arcs from innocence to challenge to regret to darkness. Or we can say they are circles, celtic knots bending through time and through the middle of our souls. Seeking to be unraveled. Sorted. And at times brought together. In perfect grace.