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Note: Just back from a river cruise on the Elbe River, through the Czech Republic, Saxony and Germany. My apologies for publishing a so-called “Monday Blog” on Wednesday. It is the first time in two years of blogging that I’ve missed a deadline. Traveling in Europe without a computer was not conducive to being punctual, but I’m hoping this belated post will provide food for thought, especially for adoptees who’ve either had or are hoping to have reunions with their parents of origin.
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Jane, adopted at ten months, met her birthparents as an adult. Decades later, she and her original mom had a reunion. It was a great success. Predictably, one of the best aspects of the reunion was learning about her German roots. She greatly enjoyed getting to know her mother, a first generation immigrant. As she told me about the event, my spirits drooped. A success, I thought, as I enviously listened.

To be honest, reunions with both my birthparents, who divorced shortly after I was Note: I am just back from a river cruise on the Elbe River, through the Czech Republic, Saxony and Germany. My apologies for publishing a so-called “Monday Blog” on Wednesday. It is the first time in two years of blogging that I’ve missed a deadline. Traveling in Europe without a computer was not conducive to being punctual, but I’m hoping this belated post will provide food for thought, especially for adoptees who’ve either had or are hoping to have reunions with their parents of origin.
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Jane, adopted at ten months, met her birthparents as an adult. Decades later, she and her original mom had a reunion. It was a great success. Predictably, one of the best aspects of the reunion was learning about her German roots. She greatly enjoyed getting to know her mother, a first generation immigrant. As she told me about the event, my spirits drooped. A success, I thought, as I enviously listened.

To be honest, reunions with both my birthparents, who divorced shortly after I was born, were less than victorious. In the case of Giovanni Cecchini, my Italian birthfather, expectations were great. The year was 1987, and Giovanni was planning to visit his birthplace, San Martino Sulla Marrucina in Abruzzo, Italy. I had seen him once in my life, during my teen years, and I had a positive relationship with his new wife Margaret.

Because Giovanni was in frail health, Margaret and I decided that it would be a good

Abruzzi, Italy is the birthplace of my original dad. Many relatives still live there.

Abruzzi, Italy is the birthplace of my original dad. Many relatives still live there.

idea for me to accompany him to Europe. Not only did I want to meet my Italian relatives, I hoped for a deeper relationship with my father. This trip might provide a chance to learn more about Velma, my birthmother, and the circumstances of my adoption.

However, it was a miss. Too much time had apparently loosened any potential bonds. Giovanni was moody, out of sorts, and taciturn. He was far warmer toward his two little nieces, ages nine and ten, than to me, his own flesh and blood. That part was a tremendous let-down.

There we were in Italy, the “old country,” surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins. Everyone lived in close proximity. It was November and mornings were very cold.

We’re sitting in front of a blazing fireplace and I asked my father to tell me what my mother was like when he first met her.

“To tell the truth,” he grumpily responded, “You remind me of her.” Nothing else, just that. I could tell that it wasn’t a compliment. I waited for clarification, elaboration, a modifying remark…anything. Nothing but silence.

After the visit to Italy, Giovanni and I were interviewed by a newspaper about our reunion and journey to Italy. He told the reporter that in his opinion, there had been “too much water under the bridge.”

On the bright side, my Italian relatives—who’d known nothing about me—surrounded me with love. They seemed thrilled to know about their newfound American cousin. So, while I envied Jane and her successful birth family reunion, I treasured the fact that I got to know my extended Italian family. I cherish the memories more as years go by. born, were less than victorious. In the case of Giovanni Cecchini, my Italian birthfather, expectations were great. The year was 1987, and Giovanni was planning to visit his birthplace, San Martino Sulla Marrucina in Abruzzo, Italy. I had seen him once in my life, during my teen years, and I had a positive relationship with his new wife Margaret.

Because Giovanni was in frail health, Margaret and I decided that it would be a good idea for me to accompany him to Europe. Not only did I want to meet my Italian relatives, I hoped for a deeper relationship with my father. This trip might provide a chance to learn more about Velma, my birthmother, and the circumstances of my adoption.

However, it was a miss. Too much time had apparently loosened any potential bonds. Giovanni was moody, out of sorts, and taciturn. He was far warmer toward his two little nieces, ages nine and ten, than to me, his own flesh and blood. That part was a tremendous let-down.

There we were in Italy, the “old country,” surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins. Everyone lived in close proximity. It was November and mornings were very cold.

We’re sitting in front of a blazing fireplace and I asked my father to tell me what my mother was like when he first met her.

“To tell the truth,” he grumpily responded, “You remind me of her.” Nothing else, just that. I could tell that it wasn’t a compliment. I waited for clarification, elaboration, a modifying remark…anything. Nothing but silence.

After the visit to Italy, Giovanni and I were interviewed by a newspaper about our reunion and journey to Italy. He told the reporter that in his opinion, there had been “too much water under the bridge.”

On the bright side, my Italian relatives—who’d known nothing about me—surrounded me with love. They seemed thrilled to know about their newfound American cousin. So, while I envied Jane and her successful birth family reunion, I treasured the fact that I got to know my extended Italian family. I cherish the memories more as years go by.

Join Elaine every other Monday for reflections on adoption and life.

Join Elaine every other Monday for reflections on adoption and life.

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