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.

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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.

Homeless and a Vet

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An icy wind chilled the March day. Dressed in torn jeans and a threadbare blue parka, the tall, blond beggar kept watch at the grocery store entrance. In his gloveless hands he held a crude cardboard sign that read, “HELP.” At his feet was a second sign, “HOMELESS VET – Will work for food.” Exiting, I handed over a few dollars from my wallet. The man smiled, thanked me, and asked, “Do you have an extra blanket? Someone stole mine last night.”
“No,” I replied, “but I’ll try to bring one next time I shop.” Of course he probably wouldn’t be there, I thought ruefully. The man’s face though young, was deeply etched with worry lines. A handsome face, old before its time.
I cried as I drove home. The cold spring day was a carbon copy of the time I opened the dusty box of my father’s World War II love letters. He had been a proud veteran, and in a way he had become homeless, and now he was gone. I blamed my melancholy on the homeless man, but it was deeper than that. The tears were for my father Richard, who had died of Alzheimer’s Disease decades earlier. At the end of his life, he was sentenced to the dementia ward of a nursing facility, shut away from my mother, his children, and all he’d known. Like the hapless grocery store sentry, he also was “homeless and a vet.”
We like to think that those we love will pass away quietly and with dignity. Certainly my father did not deserve such a harsh ending to his exemplary life. Richard, so dutiful and devoted during World War II, a distinguished college professor, was now a man without a country. Mentally alone and bewildered, he might as well have been back on the streets of Calcutta. Renamed Kolkata, that teeming city was where he’d served for 18 months as a clinical psychologist in the 142nd General Hospital. He wrote to his beloved Reva, my mother, every day. Years later, I would turn those letters into a book. Unlike his overseas stint during the war, however, this isolation could not be relieved by writing letters.

My father documented his Calcutta experience by writing daily letters to mom.

As a light snow began falling, I somehow managed to get home and put the groceries away as I pondered my father’s leaving. With Alzheimer’s Disease, we lose our loved ones before their physical deaths. Triggered by the homeless vet, my thoughts travelled back to the last semi-lucid talk I’d had with dad.
For years, I flew every spring from New Mexico to see my parents in Virginia. On the morning of this particular visit, I found my father Richard dressed to go to the UVa School of Education. For 35 years, he’d been a professor. Prepared to teach his classes, he wore slacks, coat and tie, nice-looking oxfords, and on his balding head, a dapper felt hat. Only there was something wrong with this picture. My father had retired eleven years earlier.
In the bizarre manner of someone no longer in touch with reality, he sat in a livingroom chair, staring into space. As the saying goes, “all dressed up and nowhere to go.”
My beloved dad was a shadow of himself, a hollow mockery. Mostly silent and confused, he expressed an occasional insightful comment. My heart aching, I sat before him, hoping to communicate. He did not know the Me of now but remembered the orphan I’d been when he and my mother decided to adopt me.
“I remember you as a little girl,” he said. “You were running around and around, like a wild pony.”
Memories have it in their power to hurt or heal us. This recollection cheered me. I was five years old when I first saw the man who would become my father. After World War II ended, my brother and I were shuffled from foster homes to relatives, a haphazard arrangement at best, and we were officially “up for adoption.” Apparently sensing that I could trust the kindly man who’d come to the unwanted children’s home, I put on my best “Please Adopt Me” act. Reva’s health was fragile, and they’d planned on one adopted infant rather than two older children (My brother Johnny was 17 months old.) I imagined Richard, his heart full of love, sweeping aside his misgivings and agreeing to take us home.
Later during that same Virginia visit, Reva said that Richard liked to go for walks but needed accompaniment. Outdoors we went, but soon it became clear that he couldn’t walk more than a hundred yards. As we sat to rest on a wooden bench, he began talking about Calcutta and his work with rehabilitating soldiers suffering from shell shock.
I wanted to shout, “Dad, it’s me, your daughter Elaine.” I wanted him to be there with me. But he was too far away and I was too late. We walked very slowly back to the retirement home, our arms locked. He had, it seemed, grown smaller. He felt light as a child.
A character in Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s Heat and Dust says “…one has to be very determined to withstand – to stand up to – India. There are many ways of loving India, many things to love her for: the scenery, the history, the poetry, the music, and indeed the physical beauty of the men and women. One should never allow oneself to become softened like Indians by an excess of feeling, because the moment that happens, the moment one exceeds ones measure, one is in danger of being dragged to the other side.”
My father was on the other side, floating further and further away from me. I could not bring him back.
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Elaine Pinkerton’s From Calcutta with Love – The World War II Letters of Richard and Reva Beard was originally published by Texas Tech University Press in 2002. Currently, the book is being acquired for republication by Pajarito Press. You’re invited to comment and to share your adoption stories on The Goodbye Baby website.

My Writing Life ~ From Fact to Fiction

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You take people, you put them on a journey, you give them peril, you find out who they really are. – Joss Whedon

It’s hell writing and it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is just having written.
Robert Hass

I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of reading novels, and for the past few years, I’ve devoted my energy to writing them. A shift of focus, closer to my heart. Previously, my writing life had been devoted to nonfiction. As a young child, I recorded the events of each day in a diary (a habit that I’ve continued to this day!) For a decade, I made my living as a technical writer in the Information Services division of Los Alamos Laboratory. In the early 1980s, my love of hiking, running and bicycling resulted in the guidebook Santa Fe on Foot-Exploring the City Different. The fourth edition was published last year by Ocean Tree Books.
In 1991, another nonfiction book followed: The Santa Fe Trail by Bicycle, an account of my 1,000-mile bicycle journey from Santa Fe to New Franklin, Missouri. Fifteen of us cycled from Santa Fe to New Franklin, Missouri. We biked from dawn until afternoon, camping every night. My book began as newspaper articles. After each day of bicycling, I’d handwrite an account and fax it to The Albuquerque Journal. The quest for a fax machine took me to some unusual places. I’d bike around whatever town we’d camped near looking for a business that had a fax machine I could pay to use. The most offbeat fax machine location was an undertaker’s showroom, the friendliest was a bookstore.
Other nonfiction books came, one after another. From Calcutta with Love-The WWII Letters of Richard and Reva Beard; The Goodbye Baby-Adoptee Diaries. My true love, from adolescence forward, was fiction. At long last, I’m realizing that dream.
I began the journey into the world of fiction-writing with a WWII suspense novel Beast of Bengal. It was inspired by a comment my brother John made about our father Richard. After Daddy died, I asked John to send me all the letters from WWII that my parents exchanged. “He didn’t DO anything,” John grumpily replied. “Nobody will be interested in these letters.” My brother was dead wrong. People were very interested in the archived letters, and From Calcutta with Love sold out. Texas Tech University Press, the publisher, returned full rights to me, and the book is currently being considered for re-publication by Pajarito Press.
In 2017,Pocol Press published my second novel All the Wrong Places, a page-turner set in a fictitious Native American school. Teacher Clara Jordan has to run for her life when her duplicitous lover Henry DiMarco realizes she is aware of his criminal activities. Moreover, she must draw upon inner strength to help her students survive the ragged remains of the school year.
One book just leads to another. Clara Jordan, my heroine, has more to tell. In All the Wrong Places, she lost her best friend, broke up with a bad boyfriend, and learned that the birthmother she’d been seeking died in an accident.

In Clara and the Hand of Ganesh, my girl moves from Red Mesa, New Mexico to Santa Fe. She meets Arundhati “Dottie” Bennett, a fellow adoptee, and they become close friends. Clara decides to help Dottie search for her origins. To do the necessary sleuthing, the two women must travel to Southern India. A daunting challenge, but as I left Clara and Dot, they were plotting and scheming for a way. What happens next? Though I have a general idea, I’m waiting for my characters to guide me. Throughout the day, I write down ideas that pop up while I’m in the dentist’s chair, in the middle of a hike, in the shower – or sometimes when I’m officially “writing.” My job is to collect the ideas and show up at the computer every day. This showing up feels like what I should be doing. Writing fiction is what I’ve been working toward for decades. In answer to the question posed by poet Mary Oliver
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
My answer is to listen to my characters and do their bidding.

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Join adoptee Elaine Pinkerton on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and life. Please email deardiaryreadings@me.com if you’d like to propose a guest blog. Comments are welcome!

Author, Elaine Pinkerton, traveled to Italy to learn about her cultural roots

ADOPTING THE LIGHT

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ADOPTING THE LIGHT

My friend Shirley Melis observes, “It’s no so much what happens to you but what you do with it.” She’s written a best-selling memoir, Banged-Up Heart – Dancing with Love and Loss, about losing her husband, falling in love with a man who swept her off her feet, marrying him and then losing that husband to cancer. She survived those tragedies and found love a third time. Her positive attitude and resilience so inspired me, I recently added an accolade to her many five-star reviews on Amazon.

Today’s post is not about bereavement, but about losing and then regaining health and fitness. Rather than a banged-up heart, I acquired a banged-up back. Five months ago I fell and suffered a spinal compression fracture. It happened during a hike in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Inattentiveness and treacherous footing.: I stumbled, slipped into a rocky mountain stream and landed on sharp boulders(https://tinyurl.com/yb2ruz3k).

Because of possible side-effects, I opted not to have surgery. The neurologist assured me that eventually the fractured vertebra would mend on its own. Thus began a slow, arduous healing process. Physical therapy, swimming, arnica and acupuncture were just a few of the measures I embraced. Amazingly, there was a silver lining to the cloud that now hovered over my life. Because I couldn’t hike three mornings a week, I had time to finish the novel I’d been putting off. The injury created a gift of time. I’m getting back to hiking, but in a modified way.

As an adoptee, I’ve learned that emotional adjustments are the way to succeed. At age five, I was taken from flimsy foster care arrangements to the warm, loving home of a college professor and his wife, my adoptive parents. On one hand, I felt completely abandoned. Ripped away from all I’d ever known, I had to pretend to be the “real” daughter. It’s taken a lifetime to realize that the problem (of being abandoned) was actually an opportunity. It’s taken years to shift from feeling victimized to being the heroine of my own life. The new attitude is fed by love of family and friends, nurtured by gratitude, and maintained by daily journaling.

When 2018 began, I chose one word as my new year’s resolution: LIGHT. On January 1, while cleaning the perpetually cluttered home office, I came across notes from an Oprah Winfrey/Deepak Chopra 21-day online workshop. The topic: “Getting Unstuck~Creating a Limitless Life.” Each one of the 21 days focused on a new intention. The following ten were the ones I embraced…

I am fulfilled when I can be who I want to be
I am never stuck when I live in the present
I embrace the newness of this day
I am in charge of my brain, not the other way around
Today I am creating a better version of myself
I am aware of being cared for and supported
My awareness opens the door to new possibilities.
My life is dynamic because I welcome change.
I deserve a life without limitations.
Every day unfolds the next step in my journey.

These are resolutions particularly appropriate not just for the “adoptee frame of mind,” but also for anybody who seeks to envision a personal encouraging light. It may be the light after losing a loved one, the light of healing, or simply the light of a new appreciation for being alive. Whatever your light may be, it’s worth seeking.

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Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and life. Her newest novel Clara and the Hand of Ganesh, a sequel to All the Wrong Places, is a work-in-progress. Your comments are invited. If you would like to be a guest blogger on an adoption-related theme, email me at deardiaryreadings@me.com

After the fall, beginning the road to recovery

To Thine Own Self Be True

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How can you be true to yourself if you grew up not being allowed to know who you are?

‘This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. – Polonius in William Shakespeare’s  “Hamlet”

As an adoptee, hiding behind the mask of being “normal,” of masquerading as the “real” daughter, I could never live my life authentically. Early on, I assumed that there was something shameful about not being born to my mom and dad. The best way to behave was to strive for perfection in everything.
07_to-thine-own-self-be-true-ShakespeareNo matter how I tried, however, it was never enough. In lieu of facts, my imagination took over. I was competing with that other daughter that my parents couldn’t have: A ghost of a girl who looked like my adoptive parents and resembled them in ways that I simply could not. I had to make them proud, to prove myself.

At age five, I had (symbolically) been “born again.” That old life was just a warm up and I was supposed to forget about it. Never ask about those first parents. Don’t think about those years before being “rescued.” If I wasn’t successful in my role, I could be sent back to careless people who never should have been foster parents. Maybe it was fear that kept me from pressing for answers about my first years.

That said, I had wonderful adoptive parents. They helped me accomplish and excel

Being true to myself meant writing more books!

in many ways. Striving is not necessarily a bad thing. I did well academically, worked at age 16 to save money for college and graduate school, embraced writing at an early age as what I really wanted to do. My ambition was boundless. In many ways, that has served me well.

The downside is that I never “arrived.” Instead of being able to savor my successes, I kept raising the bar. Only now can I relax and quit being an overachiever.

Do I have advice to those who cannot accept their adoption? I can offer only some thoughts I would like to share. Knowing ones parents certainly has value, but if that knowledge must be incomplete or even missing, SEARCH FOR WHO YOU REALLY ARE.

If possible, avoid people who sap your energy. Vow to do something good for yourself every day, even a small act. Try a week of being your own best friend., and see if you start feeling better, especially about being an adoptee!

This above all: to thine own self be true
Read more by clicking here! 

Adopting another Culture

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Into the Canyon – Seven Years in Navajo Country was the best memoir I’ve read in years. Because author Lucy Moore and her husband discovered the Southwest during the same year I did, the book captured my interest immediately. Moore begins the story by describing their relocation. After graduation and marriage, she and her husband Bob loaded up their Ford Bronco and drove from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Chinle, Arizona. Fresh from law school, Bob would work for the new legal services program on the Navajo reservation. He was to be a lawyer practicing in Chinle, Arizona, the first ever for the Navajo people. Lucy had to carve out a role for herself, which she did with gusto, courage and a wonderful sense of humor.

As the book progresses, Lucy describes the huge gaps between the Anglo perspective and Navajo ways. This is the thread that created the most interest for me, and it also makes the account extremely rewarding. Bridging the differences and acculturating offered constant challenges It was fascinating to see how Lucy met them. Though she left Navajo country to rejoin the “outside world,” her seven years with the Navajos is very much still in her heart.

I’ve lived and loved a Southwestern life for half a century and have a keen interest in the Native Americans of New Mexico and Arizona. Lucy Moore’s memoir enlightened and delighted. Her experience was total immersion. The closest I’ve come to that might have been my several years of teaching ninth graders at Santa Fe Indian School. (The fictionalized version of that experience is my latest novel All the Wrong Places.)

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Join Elaine every other Monday for reflections on adoption and life. Your comments are invited. Currently accepting guest blog posts: If you have an adoption story you’d like to share, please submit your idea and contact information to deardiaryreadings@me.com

The Pendulum Swings – Adoption comes Full Circle

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Hollywood Adoption: Photo found on yahoo.com

When I was adopted at the end of WWII, it was top secret. A stigma, at least in my adoptive parents’ circle, was attached to not being able to give birth to your own children. Adoption was considered a last resort. It was invisible. In large measure because of celebrity adoptions, nowadays adoption has gone public. It is seen as a viable way of forming a family. In sharp contrast to the era during which I was adopted, people who adopt children are more likely to be admired than spurned.

Celebrity adoptions have helped transform attitudes toward adoption. Magazines and newspapers feature photographs of movie stars holding adopted children. Often these little ones were adopted internationally.  Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, for example, have several children of their own and three from other countries (Cambodia, Ethiopia and Vietnam). Madonna’s tots are from Malawi. Sandra Bullock and Charlize Theron are recent Hollywood adoptive moms.

There are 145 million orphans in the world today, boys and girls who will have to grow up without the love and guidance of parents. Any situation which allows even one of these children to gain a family is a victory, a triumph, a cause for celebration. Celebrity adoptions call attention to the option, when a couple or single parent cannot or chooses not to have children in a traditional way, of “the adoption solution.”

In The Goodbye Baby: Adoptee Diaries, I relate that my birth father Giovanni was born in Italy and tell how it cut off I felt from my Italian-American heritage. Years after being adopted, I traveled to San Martino Sulla Marricino, Italy with my birthfather. I saw the house where he was born. I met aunts, uncles and cousins who welcomed me—the American cousin—with open arms. I was filled with joy at meeting people who were “blood relatives,” people with the same DNA. I felt very much at home and at the time wanted to live in that little Italian village forever.

How much was I hurt by not being in touch with my roots all along?

Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and sneak previews of her newest novel, The Hand of Ganesa.

Until I became a teenager, the answer is not very much. When, at about age 15 or 16, I pondered  the question of “nature versus nurture,” I was troubled by the lack of knowledge about my heritage. I felt disenfranchised (though at the time I would not have called it that). Despitethe fact that my new adoptive parents were loving and gave me every advantage, I felt deprived.  I had been cheated of “the back story.” I strongly urge adoptive parents to provide that “back story”: how he or she came to be adopted and as much as possible about the child’s original parents. Obviously, all of this should be presented truthfully but positively. It requires great care and sensitivity on the part of the parents.

The Goodbye Baby: Adoptee Diaries gives readers a case history of adoption’s effects and dramatizes my journey of recovery.  Through actual diary entries from the 1950s through the 1980s, it proves how awareness can provide the path to a healthy shift in attitude. The diaries give personal history a living voice in a way that remembrance never can.

My Diary is my Best Friend

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After being adopted by a college professor and his wife, I received a diary for Christmas. It was a gift that changed my life. Because my new family avoided discussing or even mentioning “adoption,” I felt that  I could be authentic only in my daily journal writing.

From the first five-year diary with a lock and key, 1950s style, to the blank books I fill today, I record exuberant or dismal thoughts,  poetic or melancholy reflections, and events both quotidian and dramatic. My happiest moments, the dark nights of my soul, commentary on family, the weather, current events —all of it is grist for the mill. Book after book, the diaries run like a turbulent river through my six decades.

Eight years ago I read through journals from my past and wrote a memoir about growing up adopted.

Who would ever read all these written chronicles after I was gone? Unable to answer that question, I appointed Elaine as reader. What my diaries said about me was that I really did not like myself. Throughout school years, I judged nearly everything that happened as not measuring up.

Some examples from 1956:

April 5—I felt sort of depressed and inferior at school today.

April 27—School dance. I had flowers on my headband and a pretty blue formal. The dance was a big disappointment. I had a miserable time.

May 26—Went to cheerleading practice. I’m not very good and I know I won’t be chosen.

In 1960, I wrote that February was a particularly low month. I was arguing with my parents and fighting bitterly with my brother.

In 1961, my situation had gone from bad to worse. An entry dated June 10: “Upsetting evening with the family. Because I failed to give a message to Daddy, my brother almost got lost or something and it was all my fault. Daddy couldn’t find him. Everyone got mad at me. Mother was furious—very enraged. What a horrible night. I hate family life.

Marriage seemed to offer an escape, so by 1966 I had become the wife of Jack, my college sweetheart. However, I took my unhappiness with me. As demonstrated in these entries from 1977, my sense of abandonment had intensified:

January 1—Jack stayed glued to TV football. Nothing the children or I did made a dent. He watched without pause from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. I felt very angry, helpless. And yet, I was too exhausted to pursue a constructive discussion.

January 5—I hate being alone in the house. I feel desperate when there is a blank wall of non-communication. I hate the feeling that I can bleed inwardly, that I can be melted by despair, and Jack doesn’t notice, doesn’t see, doesn’t care.

January 9—Jack and I had another non-conversation, very unproductive. I am filled with anger and despair. I would like to wake up single.

Three years later, I was single but with two young sons. What followed, as reported in more written chronicles, were more failed relationships. My unhappiness lay within; I was afraid the become close to a partner. My original mother’s departure taught me that if you love someone, he or she will leave you.

Fast forward to the 1990s,  some twenty years later. As I re-read my diaries, I realized that I had assured the failure of any prospective romances or partnerships. What the younger me taught the older me is to beware of assumptions. The idea that I could never be good enough tainted even the sweetest successes and accomplishments. In so many ways, I was my own worst enemy.

My negative interpretations so overwhelmed me that at last, I had to look them in the face, recognize them for what they were, and decide that I was not a robot. No one was making me think the self-depreciating thoughts.

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The Goodbye Baby: Adoptee Diaries depicts my journey from victim to heroine of my own life. It is a book that offers hope not only to adult adoptees trying to heal adoption-imposed injuries, but to parents who are dealing with the invisible wounds of their adopted children. It is the kind of book that would have helped me when I was growing up adopted. Since that book didn’t exist, I wrote it myself. 

Adoption is both a curse and a blessing. My memoir chronicles a journey from doubt to acceptance.

Clara and Dottie go to India

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Returning to Fiction

Returning to Fiction

Today, going from the nonfiction world (writing about adoption) to fiction (still writing about adoption), I’m presenting scenes from my longtime novel-in-progress, Clara and the Hand of Ganesha. For months, the book gathered metaphorical dust. A new year, a fresh start, or rather a re-start. The central themes of adoption and the search for authenticity are propelling the book forward. This is just a preview and may not be exactly what ends up in my novel.

Here’s a brief summary: The two central characters are both adult adoptees. Clara Jordan, part Native American, loves her adoptive parents, but feels driven to find out about her origins. Arundati Ragan, known to her friends as “Dottie,” lost her adoptive parents in the Mumbai massacre of 2008. She now longs to go to India to search for her birthparents. Like Clara, she is challenged by the mystery surrounding her origins. When the two adoptees’ paths cross, they become friends and decide to travel together to India.

Scene One:

Arundhati Benet was pushed open the library’s heavy doors. Dot Benet, as she was

Searching for clues

Searching for clues

known to her friends, shouldered in a briefcase heavy with articles from magazines, books, handwritten notes. She also lugged a carrying case with a new MacBook Thin and charging device. She headed toward the nearest carrel. Dottie Benet was not her original name. Born Arundhati Rangan, she was one of two adult adoptees in the library that day..

Scene Two:

“May I help you find anything?” The reference librarian’s question pierced through Clara’s reverie.

The University of Virginia Library’s deep silence so engulfed her, she thought rather than voiced her first response. Well yes, my roots, my origins, where I’m from. I doubt that you could help me with that.

The middle-aged gray haired, bespeckled woman stood impatiently, hovering over Clara’s table, awaiting an answer.

Finally Clara answered, “I’m doing some genealogy research. Just browsing…actually, looking for ideas.”

“There are some websites I can direct you to.” When Clara didn’t answer, the librarian continued. “If you’ll tell me more about your search, maybe there are materials right here in the library that you could begin with.”

This woman looked trustworthy. Why not tell all? She was getting nowhere on her own, and the longer she waited, the less likely that she’d discover the truth.

Clara, who usually didn’t confide in anyone – much less total strangers – decided to open up.

Author’s Note: Stay tuned for monthly installments. If you’ve read ALL THE WRONG PLACES (available from Pocol Press or Amazon), you’ll notice that my protagonist is named “Clara,” just like the heroine of my last novel. Not an accident! This new work-in-progress is a sequel.

Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and sneak previews of her newest novel, The Hand of Ganesa.

Join Elaine on alternate Mondays.