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Posted on March 23rd, 2011 by David R. Ford
One of the great things about writing Blind in One Eye: A Story About Seeing the Possibilities, or just talking to people about finding my birth family, is that the intimacy and emotion of it seems to encourage people to tell me their stories. Often the stories relate to adoption, but sometimes they’re about variations on the theme of “family secrets.” I’ve learned not to be too surprised by the reactions I get to my story, and have learned much about the complexities of families.
Unfortunately I’ve heard a few unhappy stories along the way. One of the saddest hit me when I was just learning about my birth family. I had begun to tell friends about the quickly developing family saga. One of them listened in silence as I talked to her over the phone. Her silence became so protracted that I finally had to ask if she was still on the line. Her voice was soft and weak when she answered: “Yes, I’m still here. Your story has brought back memories that I had put out of my mind.” She went on to say that she was adopted, too, and as a teenager had struck out one day to find her birth mother, probably while she was angry (as teenagers often are) at her adoptive parents. Without her parents ever finding out, she had spent the day wandering around in a nearby town where she’d been told her birth mother lived when she was born. Of course, with no real information to go on, my friend’s search was unsuccessful.
I began to commiserate about how lots of adoptees stumble through those kinds of misadventures as kids, but she cut me off, telling me that I didn’t understand. Both of her adoptive parents had died within six months after her day trip to find her birth mother. She had convinced herself that her disloyalty to her birth parents had killed them. There was nothing I could say to convince her otherwise, and she has not spoken about any of this–her story or mine–since then.