April 4, 2013
"The Sound of Hope" Book Tour
"A feeling of kinship instantly formed...we each unwittingly carried an ugly scar deep within our souls made on the day we were separated from our birth families ~ we suffered being cut off from our biological roots." ~ Anne Bauer, "The Sound of Hope"
As a fellow "reunited" adoptee, born in the 60's (a Wild World indeed), it was an amazing experience to read Anne Bauer's story in "The Sound of Hope."
I felt such a kinship, as my memories and emotions sailed along with her as she journeyed through the realization of being adopted (and all it entailed), her childhood memories and young adulthood... through search & reunion with her first family.
I cannot even begin to list the similarities in our life-stories...growing up as adopted kids, our "waking up" years after college, and reunion journey with our natural families (my first family also attended my wedding)...it is uncanny. It was an honor and blessing to be able to walk with you through your story as a fellow adoptee. You brought back so many memories and reflections of my own 20-plus year reunion...the ups and downs, the changes & growth, and the deep insights I've gained in becoming "real". I so wish I had known other adoptees and could have learned from books like yours 20 years ago when I was walking the same journey. What a blessing that would have been. Now you are that voice for so many...and helping others find their voices as well.
As I was reflecting on the power of your story, and the beautiful title of your book (I LOVED "The Sound of Music" growing up too), I thought of a lighthouse. When the fog is so thick that ships lose their way and can't see the bright circling light... the low, mournful sound of a foghorn guides them to safety through the fearful and threatening waves. You were vulnerable enough to share your journey so others can hear the sound of authenticity and find their way through the treacherous seas of search and reunion...out of the fog.
I am honored to be part of this book tour and participate in Lori Holden's online book club...to meet so many amazing authors and glean from the thoughts and discussions of other bloggers.
I'd like to highlight some of the quotes from Anne's book that really stood out to me, and share some thoughts and feelings they brought up. I may even link some previous blog posts I've written through the years (click on the highlighted words throughout this post to see them), as I reminisced and reflected on the kinship journey we have taken as adoptees.
Like Anne, my childhood was very much influenced by my maternal grandmother. In fact, we lived with her throughout most of my young life. Our families shared some of the same dysfunctions and I especially related to the experience of having an adoptive mother who thought problems would just disappear if they were not addressed...it brought deep silence in my soul. It took many years to finally "wake up" to my own needs and emotions, and not tip-toe around the needs of her and my grandmother. In fact, I felt overly responsible for their emotional well-being, much like Anne did her parents.
I, too, found that searching (even though emotionally treacherous at first) actually brought me closer to my adoptive family and brought about healthier relationships. I could finally embrace myself and my families (both by birth and adoption) as a real person.
I think alot of adoptees share this burden, because we are, indeed, "commodities" and our very identities and lives are amended to fulfill a role and needs of parents who often have unspoken (or sometimes loudly spoken) expectations and misinformation about adoption. Children are not the benefactors in the adoption system. Anne brought that point out with true grace.
Even the cover of "The Sound of Hope" was profound...the hand of a child being held by a shadowy, unknown figure. To me, it seemed to pair nicely with some thoughts Anne expressed toward the end of her book.
"...birth parents are indeed present throughout an adoptee's childhood...they were real to me, and they became a part of who I was and am now. These phantom parents were with me every day, every minute, every second of my life."
"The existence of my other parents was a mere fact, and once divulged, it was supposed to be forgotten. But how does one ever forget such a thing as having another family, a mysterious family you know exists but that you're never allowed to see or even talk about? The whole adoption setup struck me as institutionalized brainwashing."
Isaiah 11:6 ~ Secrecy is (truly) a burden.
"...this realization (the true meaning of being adopted) entered like a charging bull, taking hold of my naive preconceptions and throwing them to the wind. It left me feeling half naked, as if I was missing some part of myself. But the lasting impression was clear...I was different from everyone else...adopted."
When finding the courage to begin my own search, I too, shared Anne's deep fears and saw the irony ..."it felt so devious...but then again, it was my own information."
When Anne's co-workers asked her the ever familiar question of how her search "...affected her mother?", instead of sharing her own deep anguish, she said, "I smiled."
That's what we adoptees do. We are programmed to be forever concerned about other's feelings, and get weary of explaining, being misunderstood, and seen as "ungrateful" betrayers. Like Anne's fiance, even those closest to us have a hard time understanding. It seems everyone is most concerned about the feelings of our parents. "How are THEY taking this?...Matthew's words stung."
"I just can't understand why you need to find somebody who's a stranger to you."..."She isn't a stranger; she's my mother."
I relate so deeply with Anne when she said, "It hurt that he didn't even ask how I was doing..." Yes, we adoptees can feel isolated and alone, even when around others - for this very reason.
And then there are those adoptee dreams...Anne shared a dream she had of a shadowy, veiled building housing herself and her mother before relinquishment, in which...
..."The baby screamed and screamed while the girl cried softly along. It was my birth mother. She was devastated, and her pain came rushing in like a fast-moving flame and burned from the inside out, devouring me." I believe adoptees carry within our bodies the silenced pain of our mothers. We are forever connected.
In Chapter 22 "First Encounter", Anne describes an "unnatural" social awkwardness when first meeting her (birth) Mother...."I was mortified of my reaction and wished I'd given her a hug or at least looked into her eyes and said hello."
I so related to Anne's feelings. I, too, felt very unnatural. Here I had searched and found them, yet I was not able to express the elation I felt inside...only jittery nervousness and profound worry about what they thought of me. I was terrified that their warm reception was only out of obligation and not sincere. I couldn't receive acceptance because I was so numb.
I was relieved to hear Anne later write that her first Mother "...didn't appear affected by my awkwardness...she continued to stare at me with a broad smile."
My family members did the same...as if they somehow understood, and weren't judging me. I was the "lost child" in the equation. I so wish I had been easier on myself and less critical of my every move. Adoptees feel very foreign, even to ourselves. It took me many years to feel comfortable in my own skin, even AFTER reunion.
Like Anne, ..."There were no words to express my astonishment at finally seeing someone I resembled." CONNECTION to the human race. Connection to ourselves, finally!
"The Letter" (Chapter 23)
"I never saw you with my eyes, but I know you with my heart." ~ what a beautiful gift Anne was given in the letter from her (first) Mother.
This sentence of the book brought my first tear...and then they wouldn't stop. When I found that my first Mother had registered with ALMA before she died, I quickly called them, so hoping that she had left me a letter or personal message....anything. The ALMA volunteer was ecstatic that she found "a match", but she was met with my profound disappointment when asked if there was any type of personal message left by my Mother. Nothing. I don't think she felt she had the "right".
Knowing my Mother searched for me and registered with ALMA (as early as the late 70's) has given me much needed validation. Her brother reassured me again and again, of the yearning to find her only child, even mentioning me right before she died. Tears.
I have received several cards over the years from my first Father, who, like Anne's first Father, is also Jewish (extremely interesting article), that have brought further healing to my soul...cards to "My Daughter" with beautiful sentiments that seemed to say exactly what I longed to hear.
So happy that Anne was given this gift of "The Letter" from her first Mother...I know how very special it feels. And also, the grief it unlocks.
"I was unable to move. Her words tore through my flesh and sunk deep within the very core of my body where they mingled with the essence of my being, and for a split second - where time seemed to stand still - every emotion she had felt and the twenty-three-year void rippled through my body. She'd been completely heartbroken, and I ached from the pain. None of it was fair."
In Chapter 26, during a visit to her first family's home, Anne comments about feeling "so comfortable and right at home..." Then her eyes are drawn to a family portrait on the wall.
"You all look great," I said softly. My own voice startled me. There was a hint of envy laced in my tone when I realized I wasn't part of their family portrait. Their smiles in the photograph, frozen in time, taunted me as if saying I'd lost my chance. I was too late to be a part of their family."
"I was so swamped with sorrow that it was difficult to breathe."
Even after 20 years, when I read memoir's, such as Anne's, I find myself breathing shallow and having to lay the book aside at times, overwhelmed with layer after layer of emotion that well back up...feelings so familiar, that I, too, have lived and experienced, as a fellow adoptee in reunion.
The only way out, is through. Anne Bauer...your strength and spunk is an inspiration. And I'm so blessed to have been introduced to "The Sound of Hope" through this book tour.
To visit the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at http://lavenderluz.com/2013/04/adoptlit-sound-of-hope-book-tour.html