Empty Cereal Box

Views From Inside an Adoptee

December 03, 2006

My Three Graces

I just have to write about something that has made me think that there's a lot more to blood family connections than we might ordinarily think. In order for this to make sense, I have frame it by re-visiting something that happened to me some ten years ago when I began to search for my natural mom.

I used to be a member of the now-defunct adoptees only UCSD Adoptee Mailing List, which was well moderated and had a lot of traffic. Since my entire life feels like "the dark night of my soul," the list became a sanctuary of understanding and support. A huge chunk of meaning was torn from me when the list owner called it quits (I've since discovered the Chosen Babies list, which is as close to the UCSDAML list as any I've seen). But while I was a member of the UCSDAML, I worked with a couple search angels (people with expensive software who help you search for your natural family for a low or no fee). One was a lady who told me, among other things, that she thought that my natural mother was still alive, but that she would have to do more research and would need a little money for photocopying and gas for her car, etc. I was broke at the time, so I told her it would have to wait. But she did help me to fill in a few small blanks.

Meanwhile, R (my husband) and I drove to the city where my altered birth certificate and the search angel said I was born (this was around 1996). I used the scanty information I had that included a marriage date and a man's name that my natural mom married after I had been born. I spent an hour or so in the hall of records and in the library and learned a few more things, like the name of my grandmother and grandfather, and how old my mom was when she married this other guy, but I really didn't get very far. The next morning in the motel room, I stood between two mirrored doors brushing my hair when I got a thought that told me that my mother was dead and that she had died of breast cancer. I told R about that thought.

Fast-forward eight years to 2004, when I finally found my mother's sister, my aunt who was dying of breast-lung-brain cancer. She told me that my mother had died of breast cancer. I wasn't the least surprised, since I had already heard this from Somewhere Else. I only got to know my aunt for eight months, but I loved her so much. I saw her getting weaker and weaker. The last time I kissed her goodby, I knew it was for the last time. After she died, I cried my eyes out. I still miss her terribly.

As for the cancer, so much for keeping adoptees medical records sealed.

Since then, I've been very watchful of my younger daughter's N's health. A year ago she some episodes with her lymph nodes and this year with her stomach that worried me. Sometimes I'd lie awake at night anxious for her safety. Sometimes I got so worried and had nowhere to turn, so I cried out to my aunt, my mom and my maternal grandmother (the last two whom I never got to meet, and all three whom are no longer on this earth) to watch over N. I would do this almost daily, many times a day. "Please look out after your niece, your granddaughter, your great granddaughter," I'd whisper when I was alone, tears stinging my eyes, my heart heavy and filled with anxiety. I had to cry to someone. I was so worried. I reached out into the void to have a connection where there never really was one that I knew of. I never told anyone that I did this.

Then a few months ago, my older daughter K phoned me to tell me of a dream she had had. She said in the dream she wanted to tell her sister N something important, something about being careful and taking care of herself, but N kept running from her. K said she chased her for a long time, finally losing sight of her in a huge cave with pillars. Later in the dream, she found N in a big feather bed surrounded by down comforters so that only her face showed, and N was laughing and happy. Over the bed three faces stretched through the ceiling, like a membrane, and looked down on N. K understood that these faces were watching over her and that N was being taken care of. What do I need to chase her for? She's got it so good! K thought. Before she left the bedroom, the "faces" handed her a sundial made of a ring of rainbow-colored hands spread outward. The sundial was the reason K told me the dream. She found it incredibly beautiful, and that's why she told me the dream, not because of the faces.

But I felt strangely in awe after she told it to me. The hair of the back of my neck stood up. It makes me think that there's more to life than what meets the eye. Oh, and by the way. My natural mother's middle name was Grace.

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Blogger HeatherRainbow said...


You just gave me some hope that there is... And, I believe that dreams are very powerful connections to things we can't really understand here on this earth.

Maybe when this is all over, it will just seem like a drop in the bucket... even though now it sometimes seems like I'm drowning.

Blogger Miss Keeks said...

That is an amazing story. It must be comforting to know that these women are taking care of your daughters.

I've often wanted to talk to a searcher, but I've always been afraid of forking over a bunch of money to a manipulator.

Blogger Attila The Mom said...

Wow! What a great story!

Blogger Marie Jarrell said...

Heatherrainbow--Sometimes I think our dreams are all that we have. Like liferafths while we're here on Earth drowning.

Miss Keeks--I know what you mean. Everyone has a hand in the moneypot when it comes to adoptees. But there really are such things as "search angels" who, if they're scrupulous, don't take advantage, at least that was my experience. You gave me an idea about a future post.

Attila-Thanks for visiting and reading!

Blogger poundpup said...

Hi Marie,

In search of adoption related websites on the internet I came accross your blog. As admin of poundpuplegacy.org an adoption related web community, I made a link available to your blog and a feed of your posts to our website as to promote your writing. Please pay us a visit and see for yourself.


Blogger AdoptTalk said...

Hi, I'd like to share with ya'll a new and very important book about adoption:

America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry
by Mirah Riben
Foreword by Evelyn Robinson

Projected Release Date: Feb 15, 2007



Stork mar·ket. (stôrk märkt) n. 1. exposé of the corruption in the adoption industry; the fine line between black and gray market adoption; scams, coercion and exploitation. 2. an in-depth report on the international market where children are the commodity being bought and sold to the highest bidders including pedophiles with prices based on quality (i.e. age, skin color) of the merchandise and set as high as ‘desperate’ consumers continue to be willing to pay. 3. an examination of the myths of adoption that put the needs of adults, and those who profit from their desperation, before the needs of children who need homes. 4. an extensively researched and documented book that asks if adoption can be fixed -— the money aspect removed and government controls and regulations put in place -— or abolished in favor of permanent guardianship, or informal adoption sans the issuance of falsified birth certificates. 5. goes further than Riben’s groundbreaking, award-winning “shedding light on…The Dark Side of Adoption” (1988) which was excerpted in Social Issues Review Series, Utne Reader and Microcosm USA. 7. reveals, for the first time in print, Riben’s role in the notorious Joel Steinberg murder case.


“Riben has done it again. Once again, as in Dark Side, she has pulled back the covers and exposed the unpleasant truths and problems that need to be addressed in American adoption practices. While difficult, when we remove the rose-colored glasses many view adoption through, the conclusions that Riben comes to are inarguable. Most impressive on every count….well researched and thought out.” Annette Baran, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., co-author The Adoption Triangle

Mirah Riben writes that she refuses to give up. This book -— a wonderful and well-integrated mix of approaches—part analysis, part case studies from the front lines, part handbook, part up-to-date law and policy review -— is a testament to Riben's powerful and enduring commitment to the rights and needs of vulnerable women and their children. Riben's book is a clear, bright blueprint for change. Rickie Solinger, historian and author of Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America

“Combines the historical and legal perspective with really hard hitting journalism.” Maureen Flatley, political consultant and media advisor specializing in child welfare and adoption

Blogger momseekingpeace said...

wow what an amazing post. I believe wholeheartidly that they are there for her (and you), I am a believer in this stuff, I know its real.

Thanks for sharing that.

Blogger Mother said...

hi ((marie)) Just letting you know I am thinking of you! I miss ya! Keep us posted on how you are doing...


Blogger HeatherRainbow said...

PS... I have NO IDEA... why blogger keeps thinking I'm "mother", it is me, HeatherRainbow... maybe someone's trying to tell me something... ???


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