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just finished the book, a few thoughts/questions


 
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ciarrasmom
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PostPosted: October 08 2006, 8:41 AM    Post subject:
just finished the book, a few thoughts/questions
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first off, FANTASTIC book. I read most of it yesterday, and was falling asleep at the critical time in the book last night, so I put it aside and finished it this morning.

My biggest question is related to the author's understanding of some of the nuances of adoption that were so clear and SO real in the book. Obviousl, this wasnt an adoption in the traditional sense, but some of the emotions portrayed were so strikingly real that I found I related more to that aspect of the story than to the DS connection. I'de like to know if adoption has factored into the author's life somewhere? Or did she do research specifically into how a parent or a sibling would feel upon finding the news of a long missing child?

I was 3 years old when my mother got pregnant for my sister. As my father was in prison at the time (and throughout most of my childhood) it was obviously not his baby. There have been many stories about "what happened" and why any of it came about, my Dad has his version, but seems intent on making my mom out to be the criminal. He was the one who told me about my sister, sitting in the cab of his pickup truck when I was 18, the first time I had the courage to see him since he and mom divorced when I was small. It was crazy to hear the words: "you have a sister" and the details that I had never known, but was somehow not shocked by, like they fit exactly into the story and made perfect sense. There were other secrets too, but those werent mine so much as my brothers. I left that meeting intent on "finding" my sister and "giveing her back" to my mother, like Caroline in the book, I believed somehow I could fix the damage that had been done and undo all the hurt. I didnt know that it would just open up more kinds of hurt and leave even more things unanswered. I didnt tell my mother that I knew. I just thought I could find her...the sister he called Kimberly...and put her back in place somehow and make things right. He hadnt told me to give me anything or repair any lies, he was trying to hurt my mother through me. I remembered the nights waking up, hearing her crying as she searched through the closets in her sleep, trying to find "the baby". I never understood that, and when I asked once, a cloud came over her face and she said she was dreaming about my nephew being lost. I had no reason to doubt her. There were times when my best friend, a girl a yr younger than me named Kimberly, would come over, and my mother fawned over her. She had to know it wasnt HER, but in her mind she seemed to see my friend as some kind of amazing beautiful deep person, and she adored her. I always felt there was something more there, like Kimberly was somehow a better kid than me, because my mother just LOVED her, and there was none of theat cloud hanging over them blurring things.
In about a year, I had found my sister. We were both born in a small town in Northern Maine, and in 1987 they had just begun to change their recordkeeping. I had been adopted by my stepfather at age 6, so I found my own name and my brothers and figured out how it worked, a number was assigned to the child, and although our names changed, the number stayed the same. The old names had been blacked out with a marker, but having been typed previously, you could see them through the ink. I found her name, my own, and our brothers. And I found her new name too. Armed with a DOB and her name and names of her adoptive parents, I searched phone directories until I found her. She was still in high school, and I spoke to her parents first, asking permission. They were very nice about it, and allowed us to talk. Her name had been changed to Mary. In my mind, I still called her Kimberly. Like Paul in the book, I struggled to make who she WAS fit with who she should have been. It should have been easy and comfortable, the little sister I had always wanted was there talking to me, and I didnt know the first thing about her. Over the course of a year or two, we wrote letters and talked when we could. We were both poor, and struggling. Even phone bills were more than we could handle. Eventually, we just lost touch, I had my babies and she joined the Air Force. Then she got married, and had her own kids. I "re-found" her again when I was about 30, she emailed me photos of her 3 kids, and I could see the family resemblance SO strongly that it shocked me. Her son looked so much like our cousin as a boy. Somehow, the kids made it real, and painful. They and their mother werent mine, she wasnt my sister in any sense other than blood, and although I have always hoped we could meet in real life and I could just once hug my little sister, I have felt for years like it would be an intrusion on her life. The book touched so hard on that, in a way I wish we all hadd DS, that ease of new relationships, total acceptance no questions asked, and we could just accept that we are family and never have the awkward silences. But real life isnt like that. Besides, my mother, when she found out, 5 years later, was very unhappy to say the least. She blamed me for looking into her secrets, and never understood that this was part of MY history too. In the book, it seems as though Norah somehow understands that, that the time to be Phoebes mother is past, that you cant BE that mother to an adult who doesnt know you. But that paul and Phoebe were not involved in any of what happened back then and had the chance to discover the relationship for what it was and love each other with no guilt or strings attached. For me, I felt guilty for finding her, and not being able to make things right. In fact, I made things worse. I opened a wound I couldnt close. And like Paul, I knew that no matter how "good" I was, I was never going to be HER, and be able to fill that hole she left. I felt like a stranger looking at a story unfold, and yet..this was my flesh and blood. Unlike paul, most of the players in our story arent interested in altruistic kindhearted reapir, they mostly want to keep the wounds open and keep on hurting one another. No one seems to understand that it is the children...even the grown ones...who pay the price for something they had no part in. I was like paul in some ways, I wanted to go in and rescue my little sister from the hands of the wrong family and put her back where she belonged, in ours. But I found out she didnt need or want rescue, and she was happy enough in the life she had. That was a hard thing to understand then, and as the years pass, it gets harder to understand. I think someday I will probably find her again, but we will be old by then, with no parents left to hurt, and maybe we will find our way to be sisters like we should have been.
As you can see, this book opened up some tough doors for me. But I think it was a wonderful book. Thank you for writing it. I am thinking about sharing it with my mother, but Im not sure if we are strong enough to survive the fallout.

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momtofourgirls
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PostPosted: October 08 2006, 10:10 AM    Post subject:
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Wow! That must have been intense. Thanks for sharing that story.. you write beautifully- at first I thought it was a quote from the book Very Happy

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mesmom
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PostPosted: October 09 2006, 7:01 AM    Post subject:
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Michelle, I read your thread last night before I went to bed. I had every intention of going to sleep early, as today is a busy day. Somehow your thread got my curiousity going, and I did not put the book down until I had it all read, at 2:00 this morning! I am glad we will be discussing it, and I am not sure how I feel about some of it. How ever, it was interesting enough to keep my attention till it was done. Which, is amazing these days with how busy I am. I am praying for you and your sister, and I do hope you will reach out to her. You both deserve it. I am from a blended family, from my dad dying when I was two. I think knowing your blood, no matter how well you knew them growing up, is so important as an adult. I hope you and your sister will have that opportunity. It is way more important than the whys of years ago. I will keep you both in my prayers. And yes, you could write a book as well. When you do, let me know, I will buy it. Love ya Michelle. You are an inspiration to many.
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jennifergg
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PostPosted: October 10 2006, 6:01 PM    Post subject:
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What a tremendous post. And I can already tell that I am going to really enjoy book discussions here. I never really thought about the adoption angle of the Memory Keeper's Daughter, and all of the interviews I've read with Kim Edwards focus on the DS, not the adoption. It's a great point, one that you raise so well, and I am curious about the author's response, too. Thank you for bringing it up.

When I get time to frame my thoughts, I hope to ask about the twins angle. I am really interested in that, as the mom of twins, one with DS and one not. (Mine are both boys, however).

There is much to discuss here ladies! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and the ways in which the book touched your lives.

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ciarrasmom
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PostPosted: October 10 2006, 8:33 PM    Post subject:
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you guys are good therapy. Wink Thanks, you made my day.

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Terri G
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PostPosted: October 10 2006, 10:36 PM    Post subject:
okay now I have to buy this book
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I was looking at this yesterday and punched through to Amazon and read some of those reviews, some which were negative. However, after reading these discussions I just purchased the book on Amazon so I'm really looking forward to receiving it.

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Mary Beth
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PostPosted: October 11 2006, 9:04 PM    Post subject:
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I just finished the book today. I liked it and I felt sorry for David as it would have been very hard to keep that kind of secret. I'm looking forward to reading more about what the rest of you felt about this book.
Michelle, Your experiences has made you who you are. You are a strong woman and I hope someday you will be able to discuss what happened to your family with your mother just to clear the air.
Mary Beth

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Terri G
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PostPosted: October 18 2006, 4:23 AM    Post subject:
Very Powerful Book
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Well it came on Saturday and I couldn't put it down & just finished it. I was startled at first when March of 1964 popped up because that's when I was born myself. However when I got to the part about the Memorial Service and the date of birth was March 7, 1964, my heart jumped. That is the day I was born in Hammond, IN, in the middle of a snow storm, with my mother knocked out during my birth towards the end with gas too. I couln't get over that coincidence or coinkydink as my late grandmother would say and kept reading whenever I got the chance. I didn't feel too sorry for David though but for me it was the immediate reaction to send Phoebe away and that stayed with me. It was sad though the secret he kept. I am passing this book on to my mother to read. I was telling her about it this weekend during the quake when we weren't supposed to be on the phone. However, the kids were asleep and I had a lot of time to read (it was so hot in the house and muggy with rain the kids just slept). As I read the book I also thinking about how blessed we have been with Mary Catherine in our lives. I read some of the comments on Amazon and I feel that the people whose lives aren't touched by this really didn't understand the book or grasp it's full meaning. Maybe I'm wrong but I really feel that way. I throughly enjoyed the book and am so glad I read it! Thanks for picking the book!

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kellyrimmer
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PostPosted: October 18 2006, 8:29 PM    Post subject:
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I finished the book as well and loved it. I couldnt put it down myself. At first I was so angry that David had lied to her. Then Caroline taking the Phobe to raise herself. I had so much respect for Caroline for what she did. Then for David I wasnt as much angry at him it was I felt sorry for him cuz he never new what a joy his beautiful daughter was and what all he lost from not having a relationship with her. The whole story just really touched me! I want go on anymore cuz I know not everyone has finished the book and I just dont want to mess it up for them.

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rileighsmom
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PostPosted: October 18 2006, 10:36 PM    Post subject:
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I LIKED THE BOOK. I AGREE WITH TERRI G. HAVING A CHILD WITH DS DOES CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION OF THE BOOK. I KEPT HOPING THAT DAVID WOULD TELL NORAH AND THEY COULD KNOW THEIR DAUGHTER. THEY WAITED UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE.

THIS BOOK ALSO MADE ME VERY AWARE OF HOW THINGS USED TO BE, AND HOW DS WAS PERCEIVED. WE ARE ALL SO LUCKY TO HAVE OUR CHILDREN IN THIS DAY AND AGE.

I READ THE BOOK IN TWO DAYS, I COULDN'T WAIT TO READ WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NEXT. GREAT STORY!! Smile

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lespring
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PostPosted: October 18 2006, 11:36 PM    Post subject:
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OMG Chelle! OMG! (I'm sorry, this turned out to be really long, but it's very interesting to those who are an adoption triad member!)

I found out about my sister when I was 17...sitting in the cab of my MOM'S truck!

My mom had a baby when she was 18 that she placed for adoption. Just a couple months later she met my dad. When my parents met, my dad was engaged but broke it off a couple weeks after meeting mom. The former fiance told him she was pregnant, but nobody believed her.

Fast forward a year, and my grandmother, who had 13 children, said she'd know one of her family babies anywhere, and that baby was the spitting image of my dad. That was the last that baby was ever mentioned. By then my parents had my brother who was a couple months old already. (mom swears he was early...yeah right.)

So...fast forward another bunch of years to when I was 16. I was hanging out with a guy my parents didn't like much, but boy did I think he was H-O-T. During this time my mom was seeing this psychic lady (this was before she learned they were bad) and all the sessions were always audiotaped. One day I stumbled accross the tapes and of course listened to every one of them (cuz I wanted to know if mom talked about me at all) on the very first one the woman says, "So, you have 4 children?"
My mom says, "No, I have 3."

There was silence, and the woman says, "No, there are clearly 4 children here. Did you miscarry?" That's when my mom says, "THAT (I'm assuming she points to the recorder) has to be OFF!" and the recording cuts out, and resumes again in the middle of a totally different discussion. That's when I knew there was a big secret in our family. But at the time I wasn't able to put 2 + 2 together. I figured mom 'lost' a baby.

So a couple months later, right after my 17th birthday, I get into some pretty big trouble with this boyfriend, and ran away. Mom came and found me in the middle of the night. When we got home she apparently decided it was time for me to know everything (what I didn't know was that an aunt had told HER daughter, who had told my sister, and mom knew it was going to get back to me as well) So mom says, "You know, I know what it's like to be unhappy. And I know what it's like to have to make decisions you don't want to. Nobody is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. I've made mistakes. I've made some really big ones, one of them I need to tell you about. I've never told any of you kids that when I was 18, I was involved with a really rotten guy. He beat me up a couple of times, and then I found out I was pregnant. But I couldn't keep the baby, so I put her up for adoption. I named her Lancy......you have another sister."

I didn't know what to say to my mom. How could I say, "I knew it! I knew there was something!" I didn't. I didn't say ANYTHING. (turns out later mom was pretty worried about my total lack of response.)

Two months later I came home from school to find my mom standing in the doorway with a paper in her hand. She looks like she just watched aliens walk through the door or something. She's in total shock. Mom couldn't talk, she just handed me the letter.

In her hand was a letter from Lutheran Social Services, saying "Lancy" was interested in contacting her. My brother and sister no longer lived at home, so mom called everyone to dinner. I was really excited...it was the first time I actually got to know something first in our family. LOL

On January 17th, 1985 I met my sister, now named Ila, for the first time. She very quickly became a member of our family, eventhough she lives 8 hours away.

But the story doesn't end there....

In 1987, I'd just had Noah, when my mom called and invited me out to the house for dinner. But no husband...just me...oh, and my brother and sister would be there too.

We go to dinner and mom says, "So, do you guys remember when we met Ila? How wonderful it was to find out you had another sister you'd never known? Well,...you see...(here she goes on to tell the story of when she and dad met, and that ex girlfriend who said she was pregnant) So, you have another brother. Your dad got to meet him for the first time yesterday, and now he'd like to meet all of you.

We are all getting a little leery about mom inviting us for dinner.

When we met my brother Jeff, it was like meeting my dad when he was 25. The are identical. But so are he and my other brother. Who...by the way...there is only a 2 month age difference between my full brother and my 1/2 brother.

My 1/2 brother was raised to believe the man his mom ended up marrying while she was pregnant with him was his biological father. The man was horribly abusive to everyone in the family. For years his mother threatened to leave him, but he threatened back with, "If you leave, I'm going to tell Jeff I'm not his dad!"

Finally she couldn't take it anymore, so she had a heart to heart with Jeff, and told him she'd locate my dad. (not difficult, since he was a prominant business man in our area) so she did.

We are VERY close to Jeff. He spends more time with our family than he does with the other side of his family. Well, it's mostly just his mom, and two adopted sisters who are much younger than him. But we're with him all the time.

But there is even MORE!

When Angela's dad and I got married, I knew that he was adopted. Our first year together he had a falling out with his parents, and really felt the urge to search for his biological family. This was before the days when everyone had a computer, but I managed to do some searching, and we were able to locate his birth mom. He met her for the first time on Thanksgiving 1992. Turns out he was kept in the same community he was born in...the same one my mom's family lived in...and my aunt had been his bio-mom's best friend. Was there when he was born, was the one to try to convince her not to give up the baby, went to visit him in the foster home he was kept in till the 6 months passed that the court required at the time.

Searching for Andy's family quickly turned into a passion of mine. It tooks us awhile to find is birth dad's family. And then his sister Liz from his adopted family also wanted to search for HER bio family. I never did find them, but instead helped reunite over 200 Minnesota adopties with their birth families through a mutual consent registry along with searching Minnesota birth indexes.

AND THEN....

2 weeks ago my brother's wife found out.....

Her dad had another daughter he never knew about. Remember my ex's sister, who's family I never found? Yep...same exact birthdate, and now we're waiting to find out if they're a match. It's just strange. We always commented how Liz reminded us so much of my sister in law. Same mannerisms, same smile, just different hair color. STRANGE! Honestly, its' the 6 degrees of separation!

[edited to add] I should say that things have not always been roses with my sister. We've had some falling outs over the years. I'm the only one in the family that she really communicates with on a regular basis. There is no denying the fact she was raised by a different family. There are definite family traits that are genetically based, and then there are the environmental ones. And her family environment wasn't like the one I grew up in. It was tremendously healing for my mom to be reunited with her, and for all the family I worked with, because it was mutually desired, the story was the same. Some of the familes stayed connected, and some didn't after the newness wore off. But most felt a sense of completeness that the couldn't feel before.

For siblings, it often causes a time of confusion. For me, I was the "surprise" baby, and I never felt completely wanted by my mom. I remember being about 7, sitting on my dad's lap crying, asking him why mom didn't love me? It was obvious to me that she didn't. I interfered with her life. When I came along she'd just started a high-powered career and she wasn't about to let any baby stand in her way. So from a very early age, I was on my own. I learned if I wanted to be involved with my mom, I had to be quiet, sit quiet, and be patient. My aunt says I was always the "little adult" that mom could take anywhere and nobody knew I was there. What I didn't know was that for my mom, having me was having my lost sister all over again. As a baby, I looked just like her. Where my other brother and sister were blonde haired, blue eyed, I was the polar opposite. My brother and sister are much older than me, and so I was very much like an only child. (very similar to Angela's situation here!) Discovering I had a sister had me thinking I'd have a sister I could TALK to! She never had any younger siblings, which is probably why she and I are the ones who are close.

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jennifergg
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PostPosted: October 20 2006, 6:38 PM    Post subject:
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Just a bump, here Smile

Ciarrasmom, lespring, I posted a direct question about the adoption relationship that I hope comes forward, but I didn't do as good a job of articulating it as you both did.

Thanks for the comments!

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