Tag Archives: adoption

dear alcohol, we need to talk

dear alcohol,

it’s never good when a girl says “we need to talk”.. . . and this isn’t going to be good. but i have to do this.  i really do.

no question, you’ve been there for me all through the years. in cans, in crystal glasses, at parties, at bars, and sometimes when no one else wanted to be with me. best friends forever, you’ve always said!

i went to florida two weeks ago with some high hopes, and i didn’t think you were going to get so . . . . well, aggressive.  i was going to visit with facebook friends in tallahassee, tampa, and orlando.  i was going to bring my dad justin along with me.  we were going to bond.  you were going to be just something i had with dinner–or before flights.

bonding with my father is an ongoing process. he and my mother placed me for adoption when i was three years old. this is a picture of me and my new mother on the morning i was baptized, a few weeks after the adoption became final. i met my father and mother when i was twenty five years old–using a private detective to track them down.


the day before the trip, my dad texted me and said he didn’t feel he was up to traveling with me from his place in tallahassee to the other cities in florida.  i would stay with him and his wife on sunday evening, rent a car and sally forth throughout the state, returning on friday to catch a plane back to chicago.

but when i got to florida, i was surprised to discover that my father justin’s wife was going on a business trip.  and that justin was a lot sicker than i had ever imagined.  and that he was undergoing provenge treatment over the course of the week and the clinic wanted someone with him.  that person would be me.

i cancelled all the facebook friend visits outside of tallahassee. my friends were so understanding. i was going to bake a cake with jennifer in tampa and she said “no problem” and made the cake on her own and posted it on my wall. the cake tells the story of my visits to see facebook friends all over the world. thank you jennifer!


the first phase of the provenge treatment went well.  justin and i watched television while his blood was taken from one arm, processed through a machine and reinserted (minus white blood cells) into the other.  he was weak, he slept most of the days, he had no appetite.  he slept in the master bedroom, i slept in the guest room.

his wife came home on wednesday evening.  i volunteered to take justin to phase two of his provenge treatment on friday before my flight.  he would be given a very high dose of benadryl and his own white blood cells–new and improved by some mysterious process–would be reintroduced to his body.  he needed to have someone help him get home.  also, it’s just good to have someone be an advocate for your care.  especially since provenge is still in its experimental phase.

justin is actually the first person in tallahassee to get the provenge treatment. it went well, by the way, and he says he feels better. he will get two more treatments.  i’m not sure what happens after that.

the next morning my stepmother’s first words to me were “you need to get a hotel room because i can’t sleep with justin.  he snores and he disturbs my sleep.  he has to sleep in the guest room.”

i felt the hostility.  it’s always been there lurking beneath a surface of tight smiles–and it dates back to the total shock it must have been for her as a newlywed to have me show up saying “hi, i’m justin’s daughter!”  i sympathize.  i really do.

i sat at the dining room table.  she woke justin and an argument ensued between them, with each hushing the other as  if they believed i couldn’t hear.  she wanted me out of there. right then. it went beyond a desire to not sleep with a snorer.  and yes, i heard every word.

i felt rejected, belittled, demeaned, and exactly like a three year old who doesn’t understand why she can’t go home again.  to her real home.  why she has to be thrown away, because that’s what adoption meant to me.

and i would have left right then, walked out of the apartment and said “good luck to you guys”  but i was scared of leaving my dad.  she went to work.  i sat on the couch with him.  i said “this is exactly the horrible feeling that makes me want a drink.”  and he said “me too” and he got up, went to the refrigerator and we drank two beers.  it was nine thirty, alcohol, a little early wouldn’t you say?  but you were there for me.  and for him.

but that feeling, that wretched feeling followed me out of florida, back to illinois, everywhere i am, everywhere i go.  rejected, belittled, a failure, a wreck.  i’ve lost friendships, i’ve lost the respect of people i respect, i’ve lost love–the very things i have always wanted but you’re always there, aren’t you?  ready to console me.  ready to tell me it’s all right.   ready to tell me i’m pretty and witty and funny and i mean something.  and you keep saying you’ll never never leave me and i thought that was a good thing. what i’ve always wanted to hear.

but coming from you, maybe it’s not such a good thing.

i’ve tried breaking up with you before.  white knuckling it.  alcoholics anonymous.  a chinese acupuncturist who also threw in a few extra needles that were supposed to make me lose weight in addition to sobering me up.  nothing worked.  you always came back and always when i really need you and can’t resist you.

this time i’m getting outside help.  i’m scared.  i’m crying right now as i write this.  you have been a reliable friend.  but i can’t do this anymore.  i’m breaking up with you.

and really, it’s not you.  it’s me.

when i made a new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends, i met quite a few who have made the same decision, who have had the breakup talk with you.  some have been successful.  some not so much.  some have done it on their own.  some have needed what i’m about to do.  i hope all my facebook friends, all my friends, all my family can understand.  alcohol, i never meant for our relationship to be so . . . monogamous.

my biological mother gave me this picture when she met me. alcohol, this was a gal with promise and potential and i want to get that back.






the homeless agoraphobic

the ex-husband and i edge closer to a house sale.  we have come to an agreement with the buyers on price and they’re doing an inspection with their contractor on monday.  tentatively, we’re closing on june 28.  that’s when i become homeless, but in a very nice way.   it’s not like i’m going to be roaming the streets asking people for spare change and telling them i’m an injured war veteran with six kids to support.

nope, we’re going to rename this blog THE HOMELESS AGORAPHOBIC and figure out what to do with the rest of this life.

nonetheless, it’s difficult as someone who has regarded this as my safe place to know it’s not my safe place anymore.

until i was three years old, i lived with my parents justin and aleta. they put up for adoption and the patrick family of western springs took me in. they immediately had me baptized in the methodist faith. this picture was from that happy sunday. my older sister sandra had also adopted by the patrick family. justin and aleta divorced about a year afterwards. i wasn't reunited with them until i was twenty five.

it’s impossible to hide from a three year old that they have been adopted and that they’re sporting new parents.  my name was changed to lynn melody patrick.  i wasn’t allowed to keep anything justin and aleta may have sent with me.  i was in a new place.  and i had new people to call mom and dad.

sometimes i think agoraphobia is the outsized desire to have the world be safe, manageable and unchanging.  weirdly, the world never is.

mrs. jewell patrick was a beautiful woman who was unable to bear children because of a hysterectomy when she was seventeen. she was quite a disciplinarian, sometimes locking me up in the basement or in a closet for misdeeds. then there was the belt. . . .but i started to be cool with being locked up if i could read a book. i think this is why i'm literate, not the public school system.


i ran away from home when i was in my early teens.  i was very proud that i could pack everything i owned in a single hefty garbage back.  i still have some of the books that i took with me.  later, i was placed in different foster homes.  again, it was a good skill to be able to keep all of one’s possessions in a tight space and be able to pack at a moment’s notice.

denise was one of my foster sisters. we exchanged class pictures and i keep hers--well, all of my foster sisters and one brother who is now a sister--in my safety deposit box. denise later became a police officer!

maybe last year was a blessing:  i spent so much time in airplanes, trains, hotels, automobiles, on the road, in the air, at the terminal, standing in line at customs, standing in line at security, that i’m going to be okay about this dislocation.

holly was the most beautiful foster sister i had. when i was in the same home as she was, peter frampton had just come out with his first album. holly would sit in a rocking chair, smoking cigarettes and listening to that album over and over and over again. . . if i ever see mr. frampton, i will implore him to not sing in my presence. it was just too much frampton, too much "do you feel like i do?" oh, shoot, now i'm not going to get that song out of my head. thanks a lot, holly!


my biological mother aleta did not appreciate having me find her when i was twenty five.  this was before facebook, before the internet,  jeez, i had to hire a private detective.  she didn’t want me in her life.  not when i was three years old.  not when i was twenty five years old.  and frankly. . . not now either.

i found out several months ago that aleta has a facebook account. i sent her a friendship request and a message telling her that she has two grandsons--joseph and eastman. ixnay.


in the meantime, i hope you’re looking up 572 lincoln avenue winnetka illinois on mapquest and thinking about a new or gently used children’s book you want to bring to the face 2 facebook party on saturday night.  starts at five o’clock, courtesy of arthur frank the owner, and concludes at eight.  i’ll be unveiling the new i-book “face 2 facebook”. . . .the first three chapters are free to you!  and if you’re a blogger or a writer–this is the future of how books can be constructed — can’t wait to see you there!

nobody (except my f2fb friend #312) lies about their age on facebook!

i left southgate michigan striking north towards detroit, thinking about how i was going to persuade f2fb friend #311 julia kovach to help out another facebook friend. . . last year my new year’s resolution was to meet every one of my 325 facebook friends.  to get out from behind the computer. . .  to spend real time with real friends.  now i think something intriguing is developing in terms of putting together facebook friends who need each other.

but first, my oldest facebook friend–she’s marguerite joseph (f2fb friend #312) and she’s 104 years old.  facebook has lots of rules.  for instance, i can’t have more than 5000 friends.  not just me, nobody can have more than 5000 friends.

i was put up for adoption when i was three years old. i tracked down my biological parents when i was twenty five using a private detective--this is b.f. before facebook which has definitely made it easier to locate missing relatives. a few years after we met, my mother aleta decided she didn't want anything to do with me. i tracked her down on facebook and sent a friendship request two months ago. as it stands now, even if she hit "confirm" we might not be able to be friends because i have 5000 friends. i guess there's a good reason for the policy but i sure hope if my mom decides to be my friend that mark zuckerberg will allow that!


my friend marguerite joseph is 104 years old.  she is turning 105 on april 19th. however, facebook only recognizes a maximum age of 99.  doesn’t facebook realize that centenarians use facebook too?

here i am with marguerite and her granddaughter gail marlow (f2fb friend #109). the last time i saw gail was last year as part of this project. she owned a nightclub in cincinnati. that evening, i met a wonderful young male dancer who explained he was only doing it to put himself through medical school. i also got a jello shot licked off my chest. really, maybe i should shut up!


marguerite definitely looks younger than 104 and she was a most wonderful hostess for the evening.  i stayed overnight and prepared for the next day’s meeting in detroit with not one, not two, but three different facebook friends.  each of whom needs another of my facebook friends. . . . well, at least i think they do!

p.s. log on your facebook account, find marguerite joseph, send her a birthday greeting (tell her you’re my friend)–i promise that her granddaughter will read each greeting to her and when you’re having your one hundred and fifth birthday, i’ll send you a birthday greeting on facebook!  even if facebook says you’re a mere 99 years old!

i wonder. . . do you think facebook could shave 6 years off my official age?


nobody lies about their age on facebook!

i hope my mom accepts my friendship request

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.

this picture was probably taken around the time my mother and i had contact with each other. she would have been about my age. now she would be in her early seventies


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.

mrs. patrick was over forty when i came into the patrick family.


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 roche is my f2fb friend #276!

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.

f2fb friend #277 has three stories and lots of cubicles inside.


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.


an angel appears in aisle five and then there’s an anunciation



the archangel gabriel reveals the results of the home pregnancy test to mary

angels show up all the time and i don’t even think they are full time.  maybe it’s a part time gig.  i’ll have to ask my f2fb friend #184 rebecca cohen when i see her next.  like “what are your hours?”  this is important because i met not one but three angels in the grand food store last week.

it was a rough time.  i had returned from los angeles and san diego and while i had wonderful meet ups with f2fb friends balbinka, josh and brian, i had been awfully confused by my interaction with f2fb friend #180 andru and one facebook friend blew me off altogether.  i returned home on my birthday and my house was pretty destroyed by a flash flood.  and i thought everybody has forgotten my birthday, which isn’t any better when you’re fifty one than it is when you are five.

so i was in the grand food store.  crying in aisle five.  that’s when the angel appeared.  the first one.  that would be rebecca who is known by most people as becky but she says she’s old enough to be called rebecca now.  she put her arms around me, told me everything was going to be all right and somehow i believed her.  she then invited me to dinner.  i don’t recall a single instance of angels inviting people to dinner in the bible.  but there was that part in genesis eighteen where abraham was visited by three angels.

this is what f2fb friends rebecca cohen and larry barkley look like (with lynn sanders who is also my facebook friend whom i will be seeing soon!)


then facebook friend lynn sanders and f2fb friend #83 larry barkley told me to buck up.  and i did.  then i went to dinner at the cohen house.  sometimes all it takes is a friend being good to you to make all the other stuff disappear.

most houses in winnetka have polished lawns and hostas, but becky cultivates native prairie plants


we had a lovely dinner with her husband jeff and two of her three children.  after dinner, we were talking and she reminded me of something i had forgotten about her first husband.

i was put up for adoption when i was just shy of my third birthday.  recently i came across my adoption certificate.  it was laying on top of some papers in my safety deposit box and i was surprised because i don’t recall ever seeing it before.   i wonder what angel put it there.

when i think about my adoption and becky’s husband’s adoption, i wonder if we share a strangeness, an inability to form good relationships.  or maybe rebecca was anunciating (announcing) that it’s possible with great effort or grace.  or maybe you just get older.  but you definitely don’t have to cry about it in the grocery store all by your lonesome!

when family is facebook

i had one day in new york city and instead of meeting with a facebook friend i saw my half sister casey (f2fb #31) and my son joseph (f2fb #61).  putting them together,  i was surprised to figure out that they hadn’t actually seen each other in fifteen years.  part of the reason is that i haven’t been good about travel and so i’ve not cultivated a “let’s hop on a plane and visit the relatives” sort of relationship to my family.

but part of it also is that my father (justin, f2fb #30) and my mother aleta put me up for adoption when i was three.  the patricks raised me and the theory at the time was that an adoptive family should do all in its power to erase a child’s memory of any previous life.  my clothes were changed on the day of the final handover.  i didn’t get to take my favorite stuffed animal.  my name was changed.   and i’m not sure how i came to understand that i would never again see my parents.

f2fb friend #88 helped me go through all the yearbooks of the university of chicago for the five years before and five years after my birth looking for young married students.  why?  i overheard mrs. patrick tell a neighbor that one of the adoption agency caseworkers told her that i was the daughter of two graduate students there.  i went to the cook county recorder of deeds and tried to get a birth certificate and was told that when you’re adopted, even as late as three years old, your certificate is revised to reflect the adoptive family details.

i found my biological family using a private detective.  the meeting between my father’s family and me seemed promising.  the one between me and my mother less so.  in both cases, though, there is a strong presumption that i am not really part of the family and yet i am.  there is some sort of provisional aspect to it.

after dinner, joseph and i walked to central park and i apologized–as i sometimes have–about my not being able to give him a robust and affectionate group of family members.  then he reminded me that the eastman family–of which he now has aunt susan, aunt julie, aunt clare, and uncle mike–has been that part of his life.  and their parents–dick and vivian–hosted us for thanksgiving, christmas and other holidays.  eastman, my younger son, is named not so much for any one member of the eastman family but for all of them.

i really hope that this facebook project brings casey and joseph closer together.  when they parted, casey suggested they hang out together sometime.  i hope they do!

then it was time to get on a plane.  the boy scouts suggested a bit of a dare.

this is not my private idaho (id) but it IS iowa (ia)

i like that french existentialists came from france.  because all the space, the nothingness, of america would freak jean-paul sartre and his posse of intellectuals.  there’s just way more of that nothingness here than in france.  driving along i-80 across iowa and into nebraska, i was aware of the nothingness but also of the being. . .check out the windmills–

windmills were planted earlier this year

for hundreds of miles there are windmill farms.

this tractor is ready to harvest windmills. . .

coming out of cedar rapids, i headed for council bluffs because according to my trusty spreadsheet rodger gerberding (f2fb #131) lives in idaho.  the two letter postal code for idaho is id) i was really excited because in messaging each other i understood he would be in council bluffs iowa for one day.  in iowa (postal code ia).  i didn’t know that i had screwed up on the spreadsheet.  it’s ia not id.  still, i got to see rodger.  i was  a little nervous because rodger and i have only one mutual friend, my father justin (f2fb #30).  rodger was a friend of my grandfather fritz leiber (as well as a fan of fritz’s work).

rodger is an actor, writer, artist. . . and he had a wonderful story to share:

i left rodger and blew into omaha, nebraska.  across the street from the hotel was a riverboat casino.  i thought women in evening gowns, gentlemen in tuxedos, an atmosphere of glamor, intrigue. . . . i did what any gal would do–i spritzed the angel perfume, put on a little black dress, pulled the bright red lucite heels from the back of the car and headed over there.

only to discover row upon row of slot machines.  with galpals in sweatpants and “world’s greatest grandma” t-shirts.  dudes sporting polo shirts tucked in and hearing aids firmly in place.  i looked like an underage hooker and i did get my share of attention from the security staff.  i sure hope las vegas is more uplifting. . . .

and tomorrow, onward to blue springs to have a facebook visit with a label executive.  do you think i’m too old for to put out an album?

the hand that rocks the cradle–heidi bloom

i wish i had been adopted by someone like brangelina.  i think, even as a toddler, i could have managed a smile for the paps and riding in a private plane has got to be better than the planes i have been on lately.

in the alternative, i wish i would have been adopted through the cradle in evanston where my friend heidi bloom, f2fb #123, works.  we met for dinner and talked first about some mutual friends.  then talked turned to facebook.  twice, heidi has been contacted by gentleman callers from the past.  a mixed blessing, she has concluded.

then talk turned to my new year’s eve resolution of meeting every one of my facebook friends.  i have written a lot about adoption and heidi, who has been following my progress, had something to share.

first, she says the market has changed dramatically from when i was adopted in the sixties.  back then, the cradle had nearly sixty babies in its nursery in evanston–and the challenge was asking people to open their homes and their hearts.  mrs. florence dahl walrather, the cradle’s founder, encouraged celebrities to adopt (before brangelina, the cradle adoptive parents included bob hope, al jolson, and gale sayres) and she encouraged people to be open about adoption. heidi and i both agreed that kids would often make fun of kids who were known to be adopted and some extended families didn’t welcome the adoption.  i think both of the patricks had trouble with explaining adoption to their parents.

these days, the cradle has a handful of babies at a time and there are often more adoptive parents available than babies.

second, heidi says that the cradle doesn’t encourage the erasure of memory and of every vestige of life before adoption.  in my case,  the patricks shortened my name from arlynn to “our” lynn to lynn–the full switch from “arlynn merrill leiber” to “lynn melody patrick”.  i also had to give up my clothes and my stuffed kitty.   that last part i remember as being particularly galling.  heidi told me the story of a boy given the temporary name of “jerry cradle” after his mother left him with a firehouse–under safe haven rules–and how her group does its best to preserve the memory and the experience for a child.

i wonder if the reason i have so many plush toys in my car is that i’m still looking to replace the stuffed kitten that was my security.  here is my trunk, and my plush fiance mr. william clark (f2fb #60) isn’t even packed yet!

thanks especially to eastman for the paris hilton purse with puppy in it!

i told heidi about my upcoming road trip which will take me through the middle section of the country–i’m looking forward to going through western illinois, iowa, missouri and possibly arkansas.   i have bottled water and books on tape.  but first, this afternoon, i have to meet with the facebook friend who will map out the itinerary for the next month!

you can learn a lot more about the cradle at http://www.cradle.org

face to facebook family friends–

so oprah announces today that she has a half sister that she never knew about–when she was nine, her mother gave birth and immediately put the baby up for adoption.  patricia, oprah’s half sister, bounced around some foster homes before being adopted at age seven.  the reunion of half-sisters is enough to get the tears flowing, but what’s going to happen after the cameras are turned off?

i always knew i had been adopted by the patricks–i even have memory of going on “home visits” with a social worker before the papers were signed.  i hired a private detective when i was twenty four in order to find my natural family.  i was studying to take the bar exam and i thought he was one of the most inept detectives because every week i’d ask him about his progress and he would confess that he wasn’t getting any further along in the process.  on the night i was finished with the two day exam, he called me and told me that he had found my father two months before.  he hadn’t wanted me to be distracted from studying for the bar so he had kept it a secret from me.

“you’re the granddaughter of a very famous writer,”  he said.

i thought james michener.  as it happens, it was fritz leiber, which drew a “who?” from me.  fritz was a science fiction and fantasy writer.  his son justin is a writer and philosophy professor.  justin is my father and came to visit me within the week.  i went down to houston, where he lived with his wife and newly born daughter, for thanksgiving.   i believe it was something of a shock to both justin and his wife.  my sister casey is an actress in new york.  justin and casey are both my facebook friends.

i met my mother aleta a few months after meeting justin, but that situation was less congenial–she was a public defender in washington, d.c, and not making enough money to get by.  she asked for assistance right from the start and at one point when i didn’t come through she cut off relations.  i have no idea where she is now.  i met her sister (from whom she was estranged at the time) and blanche was very sweet to me–until the day their mother (my grandmother) made contact with me.  the three sisters–blanche, aleta, and michelle–have no relationship with my grandmother alyce.  alyce is now in a nursing home in seaford, delaware and i have some facebook friends to visit when i go there this spring.

good luck to oprah and her sister patricia.  they have to make a decision about whether they want to have a family relationship or whether they are going to be friends who happen to share some genetic material.  somehow i don’t think they’re going to walk away from each other.

in other news, i met facebook friends #21 bruce burdick and #22 paulibus shumann yesterday at a go bears! party–facebook friend #20 charles seymour was having a bad hair day and it turns out he’s thought every day was a bad hair day.  here’s what happened when they went outside for a few minutes during half time.  instead of mourning the poor bears, they talked hair.  what’s fun about them is that these three guys have been friends since they were in nursery school.