My mom, Alice, the adoptive mom
Last year I received the court and social work records from my blind adoption as an infant. Now I like to think of my birth mother and adoptive mother as my mothers A to Z. My adoptive mom was Alice, my birth mother Zelda. And in between were plenty of other caring adults: E for Edna, L for Louise, my two grandmothers. And then there was my nurturing and formidable dad, W for Warren.
Each one of these people, and others including aunts, uncles, and many teachers, did their absolute best for me, reminding me of Hilary Clinton’s book, It Takes a Village. I remember the uproar when her book was published–“No, it doesn’t,” shouted some conservative press, some of whom had no doubt been reared by their own “village” network of caring adults.
Increasingly we see children with one or two overwhelmed parents, and lucky are those who have a capable, loving-hearted grandparent to step into the breach. I know such a person, a grandmother, who devotes much of her time to her working daughter’s three young boys, and whose husband is mortally ill, being cared for hundreds of miles from their home.
Here’s to you, CM, and all those like you, who offer the grace of caring for children. You do it for those particular children, but it’s a true gift to all of us.
Today I found a photo tucked amidst dusty papers on a closet shelf. This is my mother and me when I was about age 10. This would make it a few years after the end of WWII. In this photo I see the delight and security I felt with my mother–she possessed so many wonderful attributes. Possibly the most important is that she was a wonderfully kind person, and I was an insecure, frightened little creature unsure of myself in every way. I barely felt I had a right to be at home in the world–had endless nightmares of myself abandoned, all alone, crying…. In those days I think maybe people believed that an adopted child could settle into an adoptive family and be “just like” a biological child.
I was fortunate. The social worker from whom I recently secured my adoption papers said that with my mom and dad I really won the luck of the draw. That’s true, though of course I didn’t always realize it growing up. Apparently the case worker who did a home visit a year after I was placed with my parents said that it was obvious even then that I had a special bond with my dad. That’s true. I adored him. And I took my mom for granted. She was so…there. So…always there. Always warm, dependably loving.
How on earth do I write about this without getting ridiculously sentimental? On the other hand, it’s all real.