“In the soul of every adoptee is an eternal flame of hope
for reunion and reconciliation with those he has lost
through private or public disaster.”
~ Jean Paton, Orphan Voyage
The blankness of our past is like a constant gnawing at our heart. It creates a hole that can’t be filled, a vacuum for which there is no substitute, it is a piece of our soul that was taken from us. It is like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing, the center of a wheel missing two spokes. My mom was not unique in her yearning to know who her original mother was.
The withholding of birth information from adoptees is an affront to human dignity. Most Americans assume that the falsification of adoptees’ birth certificates arose from well-meaning social workers anxious to relieve adoptees of the stigma of illegitimacy.
However, my mom’s parents were married at the time of her conception and her birth and at the time she was taken for adoption by my adoptive grandparents.
Of greater concern was the possibility of the original family tracing such a child and disrupting a well established adoptive relationship. Especially if the surrender had been forced, as was the case with my maternal grandmother.
The rationale was that in order to be secure in the position of adopting children, anonymity was essential.
“We never tell the natural mother or reveal to others where the child is and where it is being placed for adoption,” Georgia Tann told a reporter for the Commercial Appeal in 1948. Her letter to my original maternal grandmother certainly revealed nothing about my mom having been taken from Memphis to Arizona.