On the Trail Again

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As an adult adoptee, I’ve learned that inward healing leads to outward recovery. Along the way, I found that the obstacles in my path cause regression. Whenever life presents a new crisis, I’m thrown off balance. Because of last Fall’s serious injury, I experienced not only a physical but an emotional setback… a “pre-adoption recovery” state of mind.

After all four of my parents died, I found that looking into the past helped me move into the future.

Balance ~ that’s what I lost eleven months ago, when a hiking injury threw me totally out of commission https://tinyurl.com/yb2ruz3k. Months of physical therapy and healing techniques such as acupuncture, Feldenkrais, water aerobics, strength classes at the gym, stationary cycling and neighborhood walks helped lessen the pain from a compression fracture. However, until I faced the main culprit – anger – I would not really get better.

Why anger? I fell during a hike, something that could happen to anyone in difficult terrain. My anger was mainly aimed at myself. For taking my eyes off the tricky uphill path. For a disastrous moment of inattentiveness. For not taking an easier hike, which half of my fellow hikers had opted for on that September 22nd of 2017. My anger was about the injury itself – a compression fracture that would take months to heal and would lead to related lumbar and joint issues.

Anger is a terrible thing. Unless one deals with it, it corrodes. It can seem there is no bottom to the Canyon of Despondency and that one can never escape from this negative emotion. Until I admitted that unresolved issues about adoption were the root of my unhappiness, I was doomed to be under the cloud of angry, hurtful emotions. Only when I looked the demons in the eye could I begin to recover.
I had to admit my sadness that I did not grow up in a biologically related family
Only after meeting my biological parents, (who were not “parent material”) did I fully realize how lucky I was to have been adopted. After five years of being shuffled about in foster care, I landed in a forever home. Adoption adds so much to a child’s life: parents who chose her (or him), security and stability, a room of ones own. But it also takes away: blood ties, growing up with people who share your DNA, a family tree that is connected to you. As a baby, you, the adopted one, resided for nine months in your mother’s womb; you were connected at a primal level.

When I was adopted at age five, which I describe in The Goodbye Baby-Adoption Diaries – I was afraid to ask questions. Instead, I grew up longing to know where I came from, why I was relinquished. Years later, I felt I’d answered the questions and silenced the demons. With my injury, however, the old anger crept back in. Only when I acknowledged my anger and worked to release it did I start to mend. I forgave everything and everybody, including myself. Last week I ended my 11-month layoff. from hiking. With my neighbor Joalie, I hiked up the Tesuque Trail in Santa Fe National Forest to a beautiful lookout point. Because I’d cleaned out my feelings of anger and resentment, the physical knots in my back left me. Being out of pain and back in touch with nature was an incredible reward.
What I learned from my injury and long, slow recovery was the importance of releasing anger. Perhaps it took the injury to make the lesson sink in. I can recommend the following. Do not take a fall, but instead spend time with your inner self to discover who you really are. YOU are worth it!

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Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and life. Guest bloggers with adoption-related stories are invited to inquire. If you’ve ever had an injury that served up a life lesson, we’d like to hear your story.

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Adopting the Road to Gratitude

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“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

The highway from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, New Mexico

The highway from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, New Mexico

 

 

NOTE FROM ELAINE:  Summer has been hectic! House guests and helping a family member move to a job in another part of the country have been all-consuming. Therefore, I’m taking a brief blog-cation, republishing a favorite post from the past. This one contains a message that’s always relevant.

Several years have passed since the publication of The Goodbye Baby-Adoptee Diaries. My memoir comprises diary entries from years of dwelling on unanswered questions about my adoption. Most of those questions have been answered; now I am free to live my life. This journey—writing the book—has opened up a multitude of insights. Being in touch with the many wonderful adoption posts available on the Interenet has deepened my tolerance and understanding of not only my adoptee status but of the personal issues unique to fitting in with friends and families.
I feel that I’m traveling an entirely new highway, going from overcast skies to wide open sunny plains. The secrecy that surrounded my adoption caused weary decades of self-doubt and recrimination. The lack of a family tree that was authentically mine felt like a character flaw. Being an adoptee and the insecurities attached to that label defined, at least to myself, who I was.
Finally it seems possible to turn problems into opportunities. Of all the insights gained, perhaps the most stunning is this: growing up as an adoptee was the source of my problems but, paradoxically, the springboard of my success.
Through the Internet’s vast, far-reaching adoption community, I’ve met adoptees young and old, birthparents, adoptive parents, couples wanting to adopt, and people who care about adoption issues. Seeing the “land of adoption” with a wide-angle camera has opened up a new landscape.
Its been said that eighty percent of our information comes through our eyes. Since accepting  the past and steadfastly refusing to stay mired in it, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the beauty all around us. I’m fortunate to live in northern New Mexico’s high desert country, a land of astonishingly beautiful sunsets, the Rocky Mountain foothills, majestic forests and scenic plains.
Sometimes all that’s needed is to spend less time “over-thinking”—a notorious flaw of adult adoptees I’ve met—and more time simply really looking at the world.This is a step toward discovering the fullness of your life. BEING HERE is a gift.

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The Goodbye Baby-Adoptee Diaries is available from Amazon and on Kindle. Join me on alternate Mondays for reflections on the world as seen through “adoption-colored glasses.” Your comments are invited!

 

Join Elaine on Mondays for reflections on adoption and life.

#30yearreuniversary wrap-up:

How amazing to be with birth sisters! Your day together at Disneyland sounded terrific. None of my reunions with original relatives did not turn out very well, so it was great to hear about a successful reunion.

Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity

I just got home from all my worldly travels this month. It will be a while before I get to go anywhere outside of driving trips again just because of real life. July has been a blast. What a privilege to see all the sights and be with the people I have been with this month.

The trip to So. Cal. w my two sisters (on my birth mother’s side) was beautiful and jam-packed with activity. I’m still processing, but it’s all good. This was our #30yearreuniversary of me finding them and connecting w them in July of 1988. Each time we get together we learn a little more about one another and realize that together we do possess a “Power of Three”. (“Charmed” reference)

On this trip, we saw older houses where my sisters once lived. How the homes look now are not the way they used to look…

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Adoptee Travels: Beadwork & A DaVinci Day

While I love exploring distant parts of the globe, It’s also fun to “vacation” in ones own home territory. This month, I visited two exhibits -one at Santa Fe’s Museum of International Folk Art, another at Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Museum of Natural History.

The Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA), established in 1953 by folk art authority Florence Dibell, is one of my favorite Santa Fe attractions. MOIFA’s vast collections hail from dozens of countries. They include a stunning variety of costumes, Navajo pictorial weavings, Swedish folk art, New Mexican carved santos, African and Arabian items, toys from the Caribbean, musical instruments from the Indian subcontinent, just to name a fraction of the total immense collection. MOIFA occupies the entire Northwestern end of “Museum Hill.”


My friends, all part of a women’s walking group called “Glow Club,” and I went to MOIFA to see a special rotating exhibit of beadwork. From a beaded stethoscope to beaded wedding dresses, the variety was astonishing. We learned that just about anything can be (and is) a palette for beading. It is an art form that spans cultures throughout the world.

On another day, a few pals and I drove the 60 miles south to Albuquerque, New Mexico to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History. The exhibit “DaVinci The Genius” was calling us. The ultimate Renaissance Man, Leonardo DaVinci was an artist and inventor whose iconic masterpieces are rightly held in awe. The masterpieces on display are digitized versions of paintings too precious to be moved from their European galleries. One entire room of the Albuquerque display is devoted to an in-depth study of the Mona Lisa, showing what the original colors would have been before the fading of years and countless restorations. The exhibit’s second floor comprises DaVinci’s inventions, from wings to “instant” bridges to be used hastily during battles, and numerous devices for moving and carrying water. Made of wood, they are based very precisely on the originals.

The walls are filled were replicas of Leonardo DaVinci’s drawings and notes. Selected from 6,000 pages of originals, they are displayed throughout this amazing exhibit. Of the many quotations calligraphed on the museum’s walls, these words seemed to best convey the Italian genius’s spirit:

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Though uttered over five centuries ago, these words are appropriate for today. I plan to adopt them for my summer slogan!

*********************************************************************Join author Elaine Pinkerton on alternate Mondays for reflections on life as seen through adoption-colored lenses. Your comments are invited!

Adoptee feels at home in Ukraine

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St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its 13 glimmering domes are visible from all over the city.

Good to be back!
I’ve just returned from an unforgettable journey: 11 days sailing up the Dneiper River in the mid-section of Ukraine. The largest European country, Ukraine is a beautiful, fertile land known as “the breadbasket of Europe.” This was a memorable trip filled with beauty and history, much of that history quite sobering. “Ukraine” means “border,” and the unique position of the eastern country of Europe has shaped its destiny. The Russian empress Catherine II annexed Ukraine in the 18th century, but, under Nikita Kruschev, in 1954, it became its own country in 1954. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the far eastern edge of Ukraine became increasingly unstable. A large part of this “edge territory” is Russian-speaking. However, it is part of Ukraine. The “Revolution of Dignity” in 2014, a statement of Ukranian pride, resulted in violent deaths in the center of Kiev, the country’s capital.

My travel buddy and I decided on Ukraine while it was still a possible destination. But this is a post about the bright side of Ukraine, not its struggles. There is much to learn, much to admire. In Viking River Cruise style, we sailed mostly at night and explored cities and countryside by day. Our first port was Odessa, built on the site of an ancient Greek colony. Many cultures settled here – Crimean Tartars, Turks, Russians and Germans. Our ship docked, and we spent several days tooling about the city, admiring its elegant Baroque buildings, elaborate facades and balconies, tree lined boulevards. The variety of huge old trees (chestnut, poplar, acacia, linden) rivaled the architecture. Roses of brilliant hues rule the city’s parks and gardens. We spent time going up and down the Potemkin steps, mostly by funicular.

One night I went to the magnificent rococo opera house for a production of “Swan Lake.” Other highlights were the Odessa catacombs and the vast Akkerman Fortress, a 13th century citadel.

We made our way north, visiting Kherson and Zaporozhye. The Island of Khortitsa, former stronghold of the Cossacks, was another highlight, including modern-day Cossacks performing acrobatic feats on horseback. Their athleticism and commanding style was thrilling to observe.
After more village and city visits, we ended up in Kiev, capital of Ukraine. St. Sophia Cathedral was a highlight of this magnificent city. Hard to say whether it is more impressive on the outside, with its thirteen gold domes, or the inside with towering gilded and mosaic rotunda ceilings. The final tour was through Jewish Kiev and included “Babi Yar,” the site of WWII massacres. We also went to Podyl, one of the oldest synogogues in the city. The journey ended on an upbeat note, as Podyl included a school. Children preparing for summer camp were playing outdoors, a fitting symbol of hope for the future.

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Join adoptee/author Elaine Pinkerton every other Monday for reflections on adoption and life. Your comments are invited. If you’d like to contribute a guest post related to the adoption theme, please contact her through this website.

 

 

 

Lessons of the Labyrinth

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“The end is the beginning,” – T.S. Eliot
Have you ever felt blindsided by life’s events? The deaths of people closest to me, all

The Labyrinth dates back 6,000 years.

The Labyrinth dates back 6,000 years.

happening in just a few years, was nearly unbearable. My adoptive parents, birthparents and husband passed away. How could I go on living? Did I even deserve to? In 2007, following the losses, I built a spiral walking path in my back yard and so it happened that the Labyrinth gave me a way.
The simple act of walking in to the center and then back out, helped clear my mind and reset my emotions. The labyrinth, though profound, is also very simple. When you come to the center of the spiral path, you reverse directions and walk back out.
In my case, the rhythm of that slow walking, combined with breathing deeply and feeling the air around me, gradually changed sadness to something like thoughtfulness. The sharp, ragged pain went away, and a feeling of acceptance took over. Through the days, weeks, months, and years, the labyrinth has been a way for me to tap the inner wisdom that is all too easy to ignore.
So powerful an influence was the labyrinth that I studied with Lauren Artress,
President and Founder of Veriditas, The Voice of the Labyrinth Movement. I read her books on the labyrinth, became a labyrinth facilitator, and hosted walks for friends in my own spiral path.
When I “went public” with my adoption story in The Goodbye Baby: Adoptee Diaries, I wrongly assumed that I’d solved the riddle of my adoption. I’d put my heart and soul into exposing my adoptee past. Through writing the book, I was finally able to forgive myself for a lifetime of oversensitivity about being an adoptee. In retrospect, I accepted the fact that reunions with both of my birthparents, while not a total failure, were not what I’d hoped they would be. I learned to accept even that. In the dealing with adoption department, I was done, finished, complete.
A friend will ask me if I’m “cured” or “over” the issues of adoption. The answer is “Maybe” or “Sometimes.” Like life itself, dealing with adoption is a work in progress. Thanks to walking the labyrinth, I am better able to recognize the negative adoption-induced feelings that come back to haunt. I have learned that those emotions are like the weather, ever-changing. Behind the clouds, sunshine awaits.
That said, I am not sure that one ever lets go of the “adoptee” status. For me, it is who I am. Of the hundreds of adoption stories I’ve read, it is as integral as the color of ones eyes. It doesn’t go away. So, while not “cured,”  I am now “accepting.”
Much of my life was shadowed by an underlying victim mentality. Now, I feel that obstacles forged an inner strength I’d lacked and made me more who I am. I have come to regard being adopted as a gift, not a curse. In this journey toward wholeness and self-acceptance, nothing has been a better teacher than the labyrinth.

The Labyrinth brings Clarity and Peace

The Labyrinth brings Clarity and Peace. In 2008, Elaine became a certified Labyrinth Facilitator.

Adopting Life in the Slow Lane

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Last Fall, I went from being physically fit to feeling 100 years old…

I expected to be much better by now. It’s been eight months since the hiking accident that laid me low. On September 22 of 2017, I lost my footing and fell on my back into the Nambe River. Then, with the help of friends (they were further ahead on the slippery uphill riverbank but quickly responded to my shouts for help) I was able to stand. They fished me out of the Nambe River, where I’d landed on boulders, and walked me a torturous three miles from forest to parking lot. Next stop, the Emergency Room, where it was declared “No broken bones.” I was told to get physical therapy, which I did twice weekly. After two months, I was worse than ever. Finally, my doctor ordered an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). Voila! There it was: a compression fracture in my lower spine. I opted against surgery, instead letting the vertebra heal naturally. The neurosurgeon told me the vertebra would take several months to mend on its own. I fully expected that I’d bounce back. After all, I was one who’d endured injuries from nine marathons and years of skiing. Surely I would improve with time and physical therapy.
Instead, the months dragged on and I got worse. My back had a mind of its own. The lumbar region rearranged itself (for lack of a better way to describe the situation) and I developed a pinched nerve. Help!…Was there no end in sight? I’d tried every therapy in the book, and fitness still eluded me.
I’ve had to say goodbye to the old ME and realize that with age comes much, much longer healing time. Gone are the days of hiking to Spirit Lake, Deception Peak and Santa Fe Baldy. Or even Atalaya, Picacho Peak and Sun Mountain. All of these are favorites of Santa Feans, and they used to be mine as well.
Whether I like it or not, now begins a new normal. Maybe not forever, but at least in the near term. I’ve been limited to routes that have little up and down. One such discovery is the trail that goes along the railroad tracks for the Santa Fe Southern. The line used to run from Lamy to Santa Fe. It is now defunct, but the tracks remain. Better known as “Rails to Trails,” it is-conducive to peaceful rambles. It’s also a popular byway for mountain bikers. Last Saturday, my friend Joalie and I walked the Rails to Trails for half an hour before seeing anyone else.
Finally, another traveler. It turned out to be Hope Kiah, a friend from long ago. Hope was my first webmeister. We’d met in the 1980s, a time when I promoted the first edition of Santa Fe on Foot, a guidebook that is still in print. Having a website then, long before everyone had gone online, was a big deal. Hope, who was riding a super-cool electric bicycle, was as amazed to see me as I was to see her. We stopped and chatted. It had been years. A wonderful reunion, out there in the middle of nowhere. The distant Sandia Mountains and high desert all around us, we caught up on our lives before she motored on to her home, some ten miles south and Joalie and I walked the mile back to our car. Life in the slow lane has its gifts.

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Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on the world as seen through adoption-colored glasses. She is currently writing a sequel to her latest novel All the Wrong Places. Your feedback is always welcome.

An Afternoon of Music

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When I was adopted at age five, I went from being “nobody’s child” to being the daughter of an esteemed college professor and his wife. My brother Johnny and I were given every advantage that my hard-working parents could afford. Looking back across the decades, I feet that though we weren’t extremely wealthy, the cultural advantages of growing up in such a family were great. Mine was a “rags to riches” story, and though my adoptive parents, Richard and Reva, passed away decades ago, hardly a week goes by that I don’t think of them. I’m grateful for having been featured on my Dad’s “book TV” program at the University of North Carolina, for dance and drama lessons, and most of all, for piano lessons.

Because I loved playing the piano, I fully intended to continue lessons. Life, however, took me in other directions. It took me away from piano playing. I became the mother of two sons, and I began to devote time and energy to marathon running. Training involved running 30 to 80 miles a week, leaving no time to practice piano. I felt that without practice, I was wasting my piano teacher’s time. On the afternoon of what would be my last lesson, I had to tell Mrs. McHugh that I was quitting.

Because I had never stopped loving piano music, it’s been particularly joyous to take a music history course. from my friend and neighbor Fred Kronacher. Fred is an accomplished pianist and dedicated teacher. He is author of a fascinating memoir: Piano Variations~ A Musical Odyssey of Self Discovery. (More about that later.) He also teaches classes on music history and appreciation. Last Sunday’s class on the Baroque Era was splendid. To a group of a dozen, Fred illuminated musical highlights of Scarlotti, Handel and Bach, all of whom were born in 1685. Fred’s classes are entertaining as well as illuminating. He plays the piano throughout; He also plays cd recordings. We learn about the life and times of the Italian and German musical greats of the Baroque Era. It is a delicious medley.

Before our break, we are treated to a recital by one of his star pupils, a seven-year-old Chinese student named Stephanie. Dressed in a baby blue kimono, the poised young girl treats us to “Plum Blossoms.” After the mini-concert, we break for refreshments.. The treat of this afternoon, in addition to black coffee, is exquisite bread pudding. Hearkening back to the European influences in his life, virtuoso Kronacher is also an superb baker.

Fred’s memoir Piano Variations is great fun to read. It comprises vignettes about his piano students, mostly children. The stories of their challenges and triumphs are engaging, as varied as the young students themselves. In the introductory chapter, Fred says “To light the lamp in the soul of one’s neighbor is a privilege not given to everyone. A good teacher, once himself ignited, may pass the flame to another.” If I’d had him as a teacher during my formative years, I know that despite life’s interruptions, I would still be playing the piano.

If one cannot be a musician, perhaps the next best thing is being an appreciator of music. If you live in Santa Fe or Albuquerque, please be advised that Mr. Kronacher is accepting new piano students. For music aficionados, there will be opportunities to hear him lecturing before selected operas this summer at Santa Fe Opera. In August, he will be presenting a seminar on all five operas of the 2018 season.
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Anyone interested in learning more about this Santa Fe musician and teacher, feel free to contact him at fredkpiano@gmail.com

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Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for musings on adoption and life.

Shakespeare-Mania!

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April is National Poetry Month. Not only that, it’s the BIRTHDAY month of the great English poet and playwright, William Shakespeare. For me, it means ADOPTING SHAKESPEARE- HIS LANGUAGE, HIS PLAYS, HIS SONNETS, and you’re invited to join in. In a week, the Sweet Swan of Avon (who lived from April 23, 1564-April 23, 1616) turns 454! To celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday, please send favorite quotations, thereby entering my annual Shakespeare contest.   Tweet them, using my twitter name @TheGoodbyeBaby. Quotation competition takes place during the month of April. The prize, a set of “The Shakespeare Papers” by PhD Shakespearean scholar Robin Williams, will be sent to the top contributor via snail mail. Past winners include poet/memoirist Luanne Castle (@writersitetweet). To honor Shakespeare and celebrate poetry month, read Sonnet 18 aloud to someone you love.

William Shakespeare

 

SONNET 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

The contest ends May 1, after which copies of brilliant Shakespeare scholar Robin Williams’ “The Shakespeare Papers” will be mailed to the top two best entries. So, as the song goes, “Brush up on your Shakespeare…start quoting him now!”

Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for musings on adoption and life.

The Angels of April

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NOTE: Taking a brief blog-cation, as I’m spending time in Florida with my 93-year-old stepmother. Enjoy one of my favorite posts from the past, and have a beautiful April, more awesome than than anything else!

“April is the cruelest month.” T. S. Eliot

April is full of dazzling sunlight and the earth seems greener

April is full of dazzling sunlight and the earth seems greener

“April, the Angel of Months.” -Vita Sackville-West

April is full of surprises: one day sunny and mild, the next day snowy.
Here in northern New Mexico, April is luminously beautiful. Fruit trees blossom, our deciduous trees turn that electrifying shade known to painters as “sap green.”  Darkness diminishes as our own special Season of Light increases in strength.

Like many in the adoption world, I’ve learned to “flip the script.” On the one hand, I will never know what it is like to have blood-related family. My biological parents were a fact essential to my being in the world.  In the final analysis, however, they were distant figures who I ostensibly got to know, but actually merely encountered. On the other hand, I was fortunate to end up with wonderful adoptive parents.

It’s been said that every problem is also an opportunity. April has proved this to me. When I recently pulled a back muscle during a yoga class, the pain was excruciating. I went to Urgent Care, then to my regular medical doctor…nothing helped. It was hard to walk. All I could think about was how much my back and leg hurt. This led to a most fortunate discovery: a community acupuncture clinic. After five consecutive treatments, the pain had nearly vanished. What’s more, the clinic’s doctor (of Oriental Medicine) prescribed various supplements and minerals.  The alternative measures, in addition to relief from the injury, cured leg cramps and dietary imbalances. I was given a regimen of back-strengthening exercises. What might have been a disaster turned out to be a blessing.

Easter brought the best gift of all. My granddaughter, age 12, chose to visit me during her spring break. She is not a granddaughter I get to see very often, as her mother and father, my son, are divorced.

Angels can arrive as the young ones in our lives.

Angels can arrive as the young ones in our lives.

During the week this lively pre-teen spent with me, we went to see “Cinderella,” lunched at favorite restaurants, read together, toured the local botanical garden, visited art galleries and museums.  The paints and drawing supplies I’d put in her room were put to good use. I gave her my favorite Walter Farley Black Stallion books. She had such a good time, she wants to come back this summer for another visit.

Since the publication of The Goodbye Baby, I’ve heard from hundreds in the online adoption community—adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, men and women who are still searching for reunions with their original parents. This response has deepened my understanding of why people are seldom happy that they were adopted. Even though adoption may have been “for the best,” it leaves one with  the feeling of a shaky foundation. Despite all that, it is possible to create happiness.

Is April cruel or is it, as Sackville-West maintains, the angel of months? I’ll let you decide. In the meantime, the angels are there. Even for adoptees!

Join Elaine every other Monday for a look at the world through adoption-colored glasses.

Join Elaine every other Monday for a look at the world through adoption-colored glasses.