Monthly Archives: February 2011

Adoption’s Doors: Still Under Lock and Key

The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round,
round and round, all … day … long.

The doors on the bus go open and shut, open and shut,
open and shut, all … day … long.

Since Maeve was about a year old, her love of music and her animated participation in singing this, or any song for that matter, has made for delightful moments. Since music is a constant in our home, she’s becoming accustomed to its myriad forms, including children’s sing-a-longs, classical, rock, folk, blues, jazz and reggae.

Wheels on the Bus was long on the set list for our morning car ride cabaret. And whether it’s the bus driver’s order to “move on back” or horns going “beep, beep, beep,” her chunky little hands and sweet segmented baby arms were in full musical orchestration from her car seat podium in the backseat.

One of her favorite stanza detailed the bus doors that “open and shut, open and shut,” while her arms stretched to their widest limits, then quickly, and with as much force as she could muster, her hands slapped together — clap — with precision. Open and shut. Open and shut. Open and shut.

One morning in particular, though, those words rattled in my mind long after the song’s end. Not just as juvenile lyrics about mass transportation, but as concepts, as realities. Both are realities in adoption; both are realities in my world. After all, I am mother to a young girl in an open adoption. I am wife to a man whose adoption remains tightly shut by the laws in his Ohio birthstate. A stark contrast between the two, to be sure:

***

I have never set eyes on the woman who brought my husband into the world.
Not only have I met the woman that brought my daughter into the world,
I have hugged her – long and hard.

***

I have never heard my husband’s birth mother speak.
I know not whether his voice and its intonations echo hers.
Not only have I heard the voice of my daughter’s birth mother, we’ve spoken– sharing conversations, sentiments, moments.

***

When I gaze into my husband’s distinct eyes or admire the dark, loose curls upon his head,
I have no point of reference from which to travel,
branch-to-branch, along a family tree of physical attributes.
Yet I can trace the rosy hue and heart-shaped curves of my daughter’s lips,
even the contour of her jaw and chin, directly to her birth mother’s siblings.
Because we met them and I saw the similarities for myself.
And on that warm summer day, we sat, on a blanket in a park
and played with the baby that connects us all.

***

In a moment of medical crisis, there would be no family history on which my husband could rely. No way to shed light in a time of darkness.
Yet, for our daughter, there are forms completed by her birth mother that reference three generations of medical matters. More than that, if our daughter’s health were in peril, her birth mother could be reached.

***

Based on decades-old recollection from my husband’s adoptive family, two possible names for his birth mother and one for the hospital are scrawled on a sheet of looseleaf paper.

Although agency records cite such specifics, they are black-lined to him. I don’t rely on recollection for fundamental facts about my daughter’s story.

Her birth mother’s name is Known. Written. Spoken. Photographs of her birth mother are in our home, within our daughter’s grasp.

The hospital where our daughter took her first breath? We were called to it.

***

For my husband, there are questions that remain unanswered. For my daughter, there are stories to share, memories to make, friendships to forge, milestones to mark.

***

Open and shut. Open and shut. Open and shut.

This is the latest column, Musings of an Adoptive Mama, published in January 2011. Longtime readers will recognize the remix of an oldie but a goodie — and still incredibly pertinent as we await passage of New Jersey’s Adoptee Birthright Bill, opening sealed adoption records. While the bill has passed the state Senate, A-1406 currently awaits posting before the full Assembly for a vote.

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