Collage_Life (collage_life) wrote,

"Meet the Parents" - New York Times Magazine 11/9/08

The essay by William Georgiades, "Meet the Parents" in this past Sunday's NY Times Magazine completely blew me away. I happened upon it somewhat by accident this morning while tidying up the dining room table, after a phone call I'd made while sifting through the paper.

So moved, I wrote Mr. Georgiades the following e-mail.  Maybe he'll respond.  Maybe not, it sort of does not matter.  It was good to reconnect with my reunion feelings, and better still to write.

Dear Mr. Georgiades,
This morning, after shuttling my child to fifth grade, I returned home to tidy the weekend 'spreadlam' of livingroom Lego and Sunday paper sectionry.  It was blessed serendipity to find your gem of an essay at the back of yesterday's NY Times Magazine.  Honestly, it moved me to tears.
I was given up for adoption at birth, though my first mom visited me at Lenox Hill hospital for six months until I was healthy enough to be signed over to foster care.  Single and 20 she was free to move about the rest of her life, and she did.  I was adopted at 13 months.    Forty-two years later we re-met over the phone late one night.  I had just divorced, moved twice, completed graduate school and received my teaching masters - the same degree she received, at the same age years before.
Our first conversation lasted two hours.  The parallels were uncanny (they still unfold with unexpected quirk and startling familiarity).  Most striking that first phone call was the sound of my voice on the other end of the line.  When she picked up and said, "Hello?"  my breath stopped a little  It was me.  The knowing that moment was a deep physical "Yes."  There was no doubt I'd found the right person.  The closing line in your essay says it perfectly, "Oh, there you are."  Yes.
Eighteen years of intermittant searching led me to find her, my three half siblings (we share the same mother), and my birth father, who, after one phone conversation five years ago on my 40th, bade me to "...have a good life and thanks for calling" and that was that.  I know who he is and have Googled him, his other children (my siblings, I suppose) and relations but I've made no further contact... we all look so much alike.
The rest of us, my birth mother and her other children, have been developing our relationships bit by bit.  They are in Boston, we live on L.I.  We visit once a year there, average; sometimes more.  It has been grounding for me to reconnect.  Slow going, however, and since there is no script no one really knows what to say or do or what is "normal" or right. 
I wonder what it would have been like to grow up with them, with her as a mother.  To live on an indian reservation in Montana for several years because our mom read an article in National Geographic about people who wanted a library and a school but had no money, so she simply moved us there to help. I have included myself imaging all of us returning east to attend Harvard, (like her other three).  In reality, a midwestern women's college is my alma mater. 
Who would I be - if I learned, played, dated, wandered and loved through New England (with Thanksgivings in Maine) - if I didn't grow up here on "Lawn Guyland"?  Maybe I wouldn't love sailing, or the ocean, or Oregon.  Some of the birth family parallels are excellent confirmations of who I am organically.  But some of them point rudely, almost cruelly, to how I 'should have' been rather than who I turned out to be, so far. There is still time to relearn, I think.
The counterpart to this good stuff is that despite being nice, educated, loving people my adoptive parents and sibling (younger, natural to them) have adopted something else:  woundedness as a result of my find.  They don't get 'the whole birth family thing'.  They don't understand how my daughter can refer to my birth mom as "grandma" without resevation or suspicion.  And greater irony still, or a greater wound perhaps, is that I was able to conceive my own child; my adoptive sister can not. Very recently she became an adoptive parent herself, and because of this new baby, someone else's "real" baby, there has been a slight shift.
Thank you for starting my week in such a thought provoking way, with such a personal and beautiful essay.
I've torn it out and hung it above my desk.
I may even send it to my first mom.
Tags: adoption reunion, essay, new york times magazine, william georgiades, writing

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