i thought about my two moms yesterday. it’s near christmas. i worry about whether i’m a good mom to my boys. i watched an episode of modern family. i get a little sentimental.
so i checked. yes, my mom is on facebook. my biological mom.
my biological mom aleta and her then-husband my biological father justin put me up for adoption just before i turned three years old. i was adopted by the patrick family. the patricks were told by the adoption agency caseworker that it was best to change my name (from arlynn to lynn) and to try to erase all memories of my relationship with my biological parents. when i finally went to live with the patricks i wasn’t allowed to take my clothes or even my favorite stuffed kitten. i obviously knew i had been adopted but nothing else beyond that bare fact. in fact, when i saw my birth certificate for the first time, i was startled to realize that the state of illinois had switched the names of my parents.
these days people are more inclined to use “open” adoption or to give the child a sense of whatever heritage or history there is.
i left the patricks when i was just shy of fifteen and entered into the illinois foster system. ultimately i went to college and law school. after law school, i hired a private investigator to locate my biological parents. it took him roughly a month to find my father justin (who is my facebook friend) and it took him roughly another month to locate my mother because she had remarried and divorced a second time, retaining her second husband’s last name.
after a few years, i lost track of my mom aleta. i’ve tried phone books, google searches, directory assistance a few times over the years but she has seemed lost to me forever. this morning, it took me less than twenty seconds to find her on facebook. i’ve sent a friendship request. we’ll see what happens. so far she has “ignored” the request.
yesterday, i also got a chance to get a “two-fer” on my facebook new year’s resolution. i am friends with liza roche who works for the sun-times media group. i first met her at the winnetka rotary club.
liza is also the editor of the winnetka talk newspaper. the winnetka talk is one of many chicago area pioneer press papers owned by the sun-times.
i saw both friends at the pioneer press offices. in the days before the internet, a newspaper often had a “bullpen” of reporters working together. these days, a reporter might work from home or from the table next to you at starbucks or caribou coffee.
December 13th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
The idea that a child as old as you were should or could simply forget her parents, and that would be the end of it, well, it’s messed up. Now that I’ve had children of my own, it feels like an insult to what it is to be a mother, to nurture an infant or toddler. I can’t believe someone would think that all those moments of bonding, the earliest learning, the connection, could just be thrown away like that. And as a person who’s done a lot of self-healing work, I am quite positive that some of the most formative events in life occur for many people in just those years.
When my first daughter was an infant, in that incredible, magical period, I realized that I don’t know a single person who knew me when I was that age. I do have a good relationship with my birth mom, but she only knew me for a few days. I sat up and smiled and learned to crawl with a foster family who I’ll probably never know. I believe one of my earliest memories is of remembering them, in a vague way, and realizing that I would never see them again. It’s hard to process grief when you don’t even know what you’re grieving.
I hope you find what you need for your healing, whether your birth mom opens up to you, or not. Thanks for sharing your journey.
December 13th, 2011 at 4:07 pm
ohmygosh, you so get it!!! yes, i had that moment when i realized that i was not going to see my biological parents again. ever. or my stuffed kitten. and knowing that i couldn’t quite remember them. . . .
it’s amazing how the thinking in social work has changed since the early sixties. . .
thank you so much for letting me learn from you!
December 17th, 2011 at 8:17 pm
Arlynn, I must admit, each time you have talked of your adoption here, I have thought back to our time of friendship in high school. I also must admit that I always thought you were nuts when you said you thought you came from writers or things to that effect. I thought, “How could she know that. You get adopted when you’re an infant. There’s no way she could know.” I had no idea you were so old when you were adopted by the Patricks. I just put it all off to your wild imagination. So much more has been explained through this project. I so love the fact that you are opening yourself up so much. I know that you have learned and grown from this experience, but you have helped up learn and grow as well. And not just learn things about you, but to learn about ourselves as we explore how we think and react to experiences you have shared.
Thank you so much for being such an awesome facebook friend!