For many adoptees, Mother’s Day is a complicated holiday. For many children in Foster Care it is the pits of unhappy reminders.
All my life, Mother’s Day has been a happy one. When we were young, we made my mom breakfast in bed. When I had my oldest son in 2001, that next Spring during the month of May in celebration of Mother’s Day, I began a family tradition of taking my children out among the Wild Azaleas that are at the peak of their annual blooming for “see how you grow” photos. It is cherished by me that we have not missed a single year with my oldest son now 19 years old.
Truth be told, it was my mom’s adoptive mother who started the tradition. She had grown up in Missouri. Her childhood location is some distance to the west but is very similar in rural wildness to where I live. One year she came to visit me before our sons were born and I took her on hikes around our farm. She cherished the experience because it brought back memories of her own childhood in Missouri.
When she learned the Azaleas were blooming, one morning she dressed up (though she was always fully dressed with jewelry and make-up before breakfast). She chose a pink blouse to wear and a spot to sit framed by the Azaleas blooming all around her. Later during that visit, she took me to see her own childhood home and I was surprised to see her farmhouse was very much like our own. We were fortunate because the owner of that house allowed us to go inside and my grandmother shared with me what remained the same and what had changed over time.
As an adoptee, my mom yearned to have a reunion with her own mother. She knew that Georgia Tann played a prominent role in her own adoption story. When news of the scandal resurfaced in the early 1990s, she contacted Denny Glad who lived in Memphis and helped the victims of Georgia Tann’s questionable adoption methods. My mom learned about her from watching a 60 Minutes special about the scandal that had aired on TV around that time.
Adoption records were still sealed in Tennessee as my mom tried without success to learn about her origins. Devastating news was delivered to my mom that her mother had died several years earlier and they would not release her adoption file because the status of her father, twenty years my grandmother’s age, could not be determined (in truth he had been dead 30 years but the state didn’t try very hard at all).
Mrs Glad was instrumental in getting adoption records opened late in the 1990s for Tann’s victims but no one ever told my mom. My mom died believing she had been stolen based on anecdotal stories she read or heard. That wasn’t far from the truth but in reality Tann’s network of suppliers made her aware of my mom and my grandmother, through only the best motivations of a caring mom, got trapped.
Since my mom was deceased before I began to learn so much about adoption overall, I can’t ask her the questions that weigh heavily on my own heart about how she honestly felt about a lot of the issues related to her adoption. She didn’t speak about it to anyone else in our family beyond acknowledging that she had been adopted. That is, except with me and with me her feelings about it were definitely conflicted.