the question

“The question is very understandable,
but no one has found a satisfactory answer to it so far.
Yes, why do they make still more gigantic planes, still heavier bombs and,
at the same time, prefabricated houses for reconstruction?
Why should millions be spent daily on the war and yet there’s
not a penny available for medical services, artists, or for poor people?

Why do some people have to starve,
while there are surpluses rotting in other parts of the world?
Oh, why are people so crazy?”

Anne Frank

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(white oak across / Julie Cook / 2016)

“The question is not what you think of Christianity but what you think of Christ
and what are you going to do about Him…”

A.W. Tozer
The Crucified Life

lost in translation

“The word ‘translation’ comes, etymologically, from the Latin for ‘bearing across’.
Having been borne across the world, we are translated men.
It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation;
I cling, obstinately to the notion that something can also be gained.”

Salman Rushdie

“Live the questions now. Perhaps then,
someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

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(detail of an Irish manuscript and cover of Timothy O’Neills book The Irish Hand, Scribes And Their Manuscripts From The Earliest Times–as seen in a Kinsale Bookshop, Kinsale, County Cork Ireland)

Ce que tu ne comprends pas?
Lo que no entiendes?
Was Sie nicht verstehen?
あなたは何を理解していません ?
ما لا تفهم ?
Wat begrijp je niet ?
מה אתה לא מבין ?
что вы не понимаете ?
Quello che non capisci?
Nach bhfuil cad a thuigeann tú ?

No matter the language, the question remains the same…
“what don’t you understand?”

It is a question asked of the confused, the lost,
the ignorant, the arrogant as well as the simple.

“Is there some confusion?”

“Do you need for me to re-explain something?”

“I’m sorry, did I not make myself clear?”

“You’re not from around here are you?”

“Are you a moron?”

The way in which the question is asked pretty much explains to the one asking the question whether or not their query is worthy of further explanation or has simply exasperated the one being questioned.

It can even be issued as a defiant statement rather than a question.

As in…

“yeah, you see it, it is what it is…what don’t you understand?!”

Sometimes I feel that way…
as in the frustrated way of things….

As in…
“Yes.
God did say not to do that.
Or
“Yes.
God did say that was okay.”

It’s all pretty simple.
Pretty much cut and dry.

Have you ever had to sign a contract or a legal document?
Have you ever taken the time need to fully read…
or the legal ability in order to comprehend all the fine print?
Has a salesperson or legal type person ever asked, “what don’t you understand?”
With you pretty much resigned to the answer being simply “everything?!”…

God gave a list of some pretty simple commands…
or rather rules for living if you will.

A concise list of don’ts.

Pretty simple.
Pretty direct.
A relatively short list.
With no hidden fees.
No hidden clauses.
All in simple language.
No legalese.
No gobbledygook.

Just very straightforward…

Oh, and by the way, where there were no fees involved,
there were / are penalties with each broken “law”

But they were set to make life easy.
Follow the rules, the laws, and life was to be pretty much… golden….

Later, His Son came along and offered a few more to the list…
This time there were actually a few additions in the affirmative…as in “do this”

Things like…
Loving your God with all your heart, mind, body, and being…
Secondly… love your neighbor as yourself.
Do unto others as you would wish others to do unto you.

Again straightforward with a direct approach.
Nothing buried in the fine print.

There were also a few more don’ts and do’s added to the list.
Don’t have sexual intercourse or anything close with those of your same sex.
Don’t do things in excess…like drink or eat, or…you name it.
Don’t neglect those less fortunate
Do take care of widows and orphans
Do remember those in prison.
Do show mercy.
Do show kindness.
Do show compassion.

All simple.
All direct.
Rules for living—in order to make the living…golden.

Yet over time, everyone has wanted to complicate the simple.
Muddy the waters.
Argue the point.
Defy the point.
Create fine print.
Throw in some hidden agendas and clauses.

And I just want to look at everyone with that exasperated look saying….
“What don’t you understand??????”

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Proverbs 18:2

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:2-5

time being a relevant thought

To be a Christian who is willing to travel with Christ on his downward road requires being willing to detach oneself constantly from any need to be relevant, and to trust ever more deeply the Word of God.
Fr.Henri Nouwen

Time is a brisk wind, for each hour it brings something new… but who can understand and measure its sharp breath, its mystery and its design?
Paracelsus

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(grave markers found in the cemetery at the Sligo Abbey, County Sligo / Julie Cook / 2015)

The hour grows late and it appears as if I have run out of time…

There once was a time when these markers, these words, these remembrances were thought well of—for they marked the lives lived of those who once mattered to someone else.
They mattered to those in a certain time who thought well enough to remember, to mark and to recall the lives, the times and the deaths of others who mattered…

For there once was a time to celebrate, a time to mourn and a time to remember…

It also appears that there has been a time to forget…

For Time has simply had his way…sweeping gently away the physical reminders of that which once was…as the names, the lives and the times of those once thought well enough of… have slowly faded…as time has now long passed since the days of remembrance for the lives and times of those who now lie buried here…as they, their lives, their times are now forgotten and simply abandoned to the ravages and march of Time…

For some of us Time will be quickly passing…
While for others it will be a time slowly to depart.
Yet all of our time will surely wane…
Making way for a new time…

As the questions hang heavy…when did those who had taken the time to recall and remember, take the time to simply walk away, disappear and forget…?

For it seems that at some point in time each and everyone of us will indeed have our day and our time… yet…
Just as quickly, our days and time will surely pass…as we too will simply be a name, a date, a time of a life and time that once was…leaving others in a different time to wander and wonder..
Which in turn leaves only just one question….before our time has waned and is to be forgotten…

… how shall we then pass those days and that time…?

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice”
John 5:28

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The story and the questions

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”
― George MacDonald

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(tired eyes struggling with a sinus infection)

This is part II to a previous post, Who in the heck is Sylvia Kay and what have you done with her? Published March 13, 2013

Have you ever looked into a mirror and wondered who’s that person staring back at you?
No, this is not some psychological question.
Not some deep search for man and his meaning.
Nor is it a trick question.
For here rests a more literal question.

Who do you see staring back at you?

The answer is not simple.
The answer is not the obvious.
The answer is not exactly. . . you.

If not you, if not me, then who you ask?!

The face you see in the mirror is a combination of those who have gone before you. Are those your mother’s eyes? Is that your dads’ chin? Maybe, sadly, your grandfather’s nose? Perhaps your aunt’s earlobes?
It is the bits and pieces of others which make you, you.
Individual, yes.
Conglomerate, yes as well.
You are not just a mere product of a mom and dad but rather a product of generations prior to your parents. You possess a lineage–for good or bad, of a certain family, of a certain people, of a certain clan.

But wonder if you didn’t know whose eyes were looking back at you, whose nose, whose ears, whose facial structure. . .?

Ah the real question—
It is the question of Who.

And so this takes us back to examine an earlier question.
Who in the heck is Sylvia Kay?
“But Julie,” you say, “it doesn’t matter about Sylvia Kay because you are you.” You’ve turned out swell. You have a swell life and and a swell family”
My reply is you’re right—it doesn’t really matter. Life is good, I’m good. It took 54 years of picking up pieces, but you’re right, it’s all good.
But. . .

Who is staring back at me?
Whose eye’s?
Whose lack of lips?
Whose thyroid issue?
Whose horrendous sinus issue?
Whose temper?
Whose intensity?
Who makes me me?

The time: 1959
The Location: Atlanta

The cast of characters:

We know there is a woman. By the time our story takes place she is a nurse. We’ll call her “the Nurse”

There is a man, around the age of 28. A former serviceman, we think, turned State Patrolman, a Lieutenant. We think from Alabama but we are not 100% certain of his state of origin.
We will call him “the Lieutenant.”

There is a baby. We will call her Sylvia Kay or simply, “the Baby.”

There is a Social Worker from the Child Welfare Association, who we will call “the Social Worker.”

Allow us to look briefly back on the life of the Nurse.
At the time of our story she is 23.
Living with one of her older sisters in Atlanta.
She is a nurse, but for which particular hospital is unknown, but probably not Georgia Baptist.
She is a petite woman around 5.5 feet in stature weighing in at a 103 lbs.
Dark brown straight hair, fair complexion and hazel eyes.
Of Scotch / Irish decent.

During high school, the Nurse was involved in music, loving to sing. She was also a part of her high school’s Annual Staff and was even a member of the Future Teacher’s Association.
Funny, we know that the Baby, once in high school was also a part of her school’s Yearbook staff and actually grew up to become a teacher, a lifelong educator. . .and although she can’t sing a lick, loves to sing none the less.

It is believed that the Nurse is from south Georgia but of this we are not certain.
She comes from a close knit family—2 sisters and 2 brothers, a mom who worked in a dye lab and dad who, having had heart trouble, retired his job with the Government. The Nurse was the next to the youngest of the 5 siblings.

There is not nearly as much known about the Lieutenant.
At the time of our story the Lieutenant is 28 with light brown hair, blue eyes and a medium complexion.
He is tall, 6.3 and weighs in at 220 Lbs.
It appears he is friends with the brother-n-law of the Nurse and that he and the Nurse have known one another since high school.

Question: Odd, does that mean they were from the same town, same state?

It also appears that he comes from a family which is considered to be “wealthy” and socially affluent. Perhaps that was a tipping point in the story, yet we do not know that to have ever been an issue.

We do not know how the relationship began between the Nurse and the Lieutenant. However it appears to have been an extensive relationship with marriage having been discussed.

But.
Something happened.
The questions for us, the reader, remains sadly just that—questions upon more questions.
What had happened to this couple? They were not kids but rather grown young adults each having a good education under their belts, each with a secure job. They were enjoying a committed relationship that suddenly, somehow, goes a rye.

The following information is derived from official papers regarding that of the Baby.

In the later half of the year in 1959, the month that the Baby is born, the Nurse calls the office of Georgia’s Child Welfare Agency. The Nurse explains that she is a registered nurse who is to soon deliver a baby out of wedlock at Georgia Baptist Hospital. The Nurse (who should have known better) had not received prenatal care and delivers a baby girl prematurely. There were fictions names.
The Nurse leaves the hospital the very same day, leaving the Baby behind.

But before the Nurse leaves the hospital, the Social Worker finds her. The Nurse explains that she does not want the Social Worker contacting her sister as she is currently living with her sister who is unaware of the Baby or pregnancy.
That she, the Nurse, is planning on returning to work at the hospital where she is employed (not the hospital in which the Baby is born), agreeing to meet with the Social Worker the following day once she gets off from her shift.

Question: Who has a baby, walks out of the hospital, and goes right back to work—in 1959?

The Social Worker learns that the Nurse had signed papers asking that the Child Welfare Association pick up the baby and place the baby in a foster home and that she, the Nurse, intended on paying for all of the medical fees from the birth and now for that of the foster home.

The Nurse shared with the Social Worker that no one in her family had known about the pregnancy. She had told her sister, at the time that she was soon to deliver the Baby, that she would be going on an out of state trip for a bit. No one knew she was pregnant–not family, not co-workers.

Question: How do you hide a pregnancy so well in 1959?

The Nurse and the Social Worker met several times over the course of the next couple of months.

The Social Worker noted that the Nurse guardedly discussed the Lieutenant, only offering basic pertinent information—asking not to discuss the relationship. The Social Worker noted that the Nurse still seemed “very emotionally attached to the Lieutenant.” When discussing the Baby, the Nurse would show “considerable emotion with her eyes filling with tears”—yet appeared very resolute in the decision to relinquish the Baby. The Nurse stated that during the entire 9 months of the pregnancy–she never entertained the idea of keeping the baby.

Question: What is it that we know today about the transference of positive and negative emotions in utero form mother to child?

The Nurse told the Social Worker that the reason she returned immediately to work following the birth of the Baby was due to the fact that working hard helped to keep her mind off of her troubles. She would even volunteer to work overtime and would take the shifts of the other nurses who needed time off.

Over the next several weeks, during each meeting, the Social Worker would share the progression of the Baby and of the Baby’s health. The Social Worker noted that the Nurse’s eyes would still fill with tears. The Nurse always wanted a full report about the Baby’s check-ups and growth progress.

The Nurse told the Social Worker that she actually enjoyed their meetings as it felt good to be able to confide in someone else. The Nurse expanded slightly on the relationship with that of the Lieutenant, noting that he was aware of the pregnancy and wanted to do whatever possible to help and make things right.
But.
Something happened.
Something was said.
The Nurse explained that “she had said something, something too much,” and that a deep rift between them occurred. Later one of the sisters of the Nurse sent a newspaper clipping of the wedding announcement regarding the Lieutenant. The Social Worker noted that the Nurse still seemed emotionally attached yet now also resentful. Nothing else was shared regarding the Lieutenant.

The Baby remained in foster care for the next 3 months before eventually joining an adoptive couple. It would take up to another full year until the adoption was officially complete marking the Baby’s case as closed. The Baby, who had been given the name Sylvia Kay by the Nurse on that fateful day in the hospital, was 1.5 years old before she would no longer officially exist as Sylvia Kay.

Fast forward to 2010. The Baby was now a grown woman. The Baby, now grown, had often wondered about her life prior, on and off, but had made the decision to leave it in the past to which it belonged. Yet there were always nagging questions. Why had there been struggles in school? Why was there often fears of rejection? Why was there the need to seek out the surrogate father in the Priest? Where did the love of cooking come from? Why writing? Why Art? Why the consuming need to communicate? Why the need to be the one in control? What’s the Italian thing all about? Why the tom-boy thing? Why the love of solitude?
Why?

So when she, the now grown Baby, stumbled upon the agency Families First, the current organization in the state which was now the defunct Georgia Child Welfare Association, she discovered that she could obtain the basic “non identifying information” for a nominal fee. The full disclosed case file would be $325. The Baby believed that the little pieces would be best first, telling herself that she could decide later whether she should seek the release of the original case file–or not.

The Baby, now grown, had a tremendous love of history, even minoring in such in college—but the nagging issue was what was the Baby’s, now grown, history? Yet part of the question was whether or not the knowledge of such was pertinent to life today?

Question: Is it important to know one’s past before progressing to the future?

And so here we are with all that remains–those eyes.
The eyes of one who wonders—wondering whose eye are staring back from the mirror.
Those eyes which stare each day from a mirror asking more questions than there are answers.
But does it really matter?
I suppose it only matters if knowing from whence you came is as important as knowing where it is you are going. . .

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
Psalm 139 13-18 NIV

Before they were Pop and Nany or Daddy and Mama….

. . .they were Paul and Anne. . .

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During each of my weekly pilgrimages to and from Dad’s, it is a guarantee that I’ll be leaving Dad’s with more than what I brought. Be it some sort of item from either my childhood or his, it is all slowly tricking out of that house. Gloria seems most determined to empty that house of not merely things that were my mother’s or grandmothers, but of most things in general. It seems she is truly of the mindset less is more. . .much to Dad’s chagrin.

Last week it was the dinning room chandelier (nothing large or garish, but it was Mother’s) and two side chairs. The week before that it was 4 dinning room chairs and a clock. Before that it was a side table and a corner cabinet. I have thought that perhaps I need to open some sort of antique store as I cannot continue bringing home so much “stuff”. . .I cannot house the things that are essentially coming from 3 separate households!

This week was no different.
“You’re taking the hall painting this week right.” Gloria tells rather than asks.
“I thought that you were putting it back up after they finished painting the hall?” I ask more than state.
It’s a beautiful large early 19th century English landscape painting that was my grandmothers. It is something I’ve always loved but it has hung in our house for as long as I can remember. I couldn’t believe Dad was letting her “dispose” of it so easily as he’s always loved the paintings that Nany had procured over her long life.

It wasn’t the tables or chairs however that caught my eye this week, but rather a box of very old photographs and mementos. I’m a sucker for old pictures as they tell so many stories— long time forgotten. They are the physical and tangible evidence of the lives once lived by individuals who have long since departed this life–of those who have gone before us. They hold the key to so many mysteries and secrets and yet often create more mysteries than those that they solve. They are also visual links to our past—my past.

Once home I eagerly sat down to open the box–not knowing what wonderful treasures I’d find. It was an old box that was a precursor to a Harry and David’s holiday fruit box. Obviously it was a box of pears Nany and Pop had received years before I was even born as the post mark read 1955. Inside the box, inside this cardboard time capsule of my world before I ever was, was a treasure trove of very old photos, cards, announcements, report cards and newspaper clippings.

I don’t know why but every time I find something such as this, a box full of someone else’s lifetime, I find myself growing a bit forlorn, enveloped in a blanket of bitter sweet sadness. More questions arise and there is simply no one around any longer who can answer the growing queries. Who was this handsome young man? Whose children were these? Where is this house–does it still exist? Who’s that in the uniform and of which war was he sent? Endless questions which are now my present frustration.

Then suddenly, buried under the yellowing envelopes and fading memories, I spy a small, over exposed, little black and white image of a young couple in what appears to be a small canopied boat of sorts as the hint lies with the young man’s right hand resting on a throttle.

“What is this?” I hear myself inwardly whispering. “Nooo” I softly breathe as in disbelief. “Is this really them?” The year is around 1921, the year they married. I can see the ring on his hand so I know it is 1921 or a year or so later–no children yet, so it is before 1923—perhaps it’s from the honeymoon. They are but 25, the same age my son is today. . .a surreal image I grapple to digest.

On first glance I see a young couple, very much together. Then I begin to “study” the image. . . It must warm weather, most likely hot and muggy as the image is taken somewhere here in the deep south. He’s wearing what appears to be white pants and an unbuttoned loosely fitting white shirt as his sleeves are rolled up. He seems a bit shy and boyish but yet comfortable and in control in the “captain’s seat.”

She is shadowed, peering from behind, almost concealed in the background, something which will most certainly not be her style later in life. She looks cute and casual, almost tomboyish in the hat which covers her head. She’s wearing knickers with striped knee socks. Her round face always distinctive, which is how I quickly recognize her, yet I can’t make out the unmistakable clef of her chin–both telltale distinctive facial images–and yet there are no glasses– something they both were never without in later years.

She is holding, almost embracing him and resting her face gently against his shoulder. He is open armed as if he could or would simply turn to embrace her. She did not have a father growing up as he was killed in a distant war when she was only four—was this now the masculine figure she had longed for to fill a void in her heart that she never realized she had need of until now?

Never before have I seen, in photographs or in my memory, any sort of demonstrative display of tender affection such as this nor had I witnessed such in the time I had known them–nothing as tender as what is visible in this brief snapshot of time. I am deeply touched as I feel the warm tears filling my eyes as being privy to this seemingly intimate moment is very moving.

He died well before he should have. It was 1967 and he was but 66. She lived much longer, and sadly without him, dying in 1983 at the age of 87. I was 7 when my grandfather died so I did not know them as a couple for as long as I knew her as my grandmother alone. She had a terrible time the year following his death. We wondered if she would survive.

Ours was never a demonstrative family. We did not hug, we did not say “I love you” —that was all shown differently. Why was that I now found myself wondering as I stared at this picture. This pictures speaks differently. When did things change?

I never knew her to own a pair of pants as she was always in a dress and always impeccable. But in this picture there is a casualness that she never showed during the time I knew her–when we were kids, we were not allowed to wear bluejeans when visiting her. Prim and proper was the only way to describe her–a bastion of southern genteel society. But in this picture I see a young woman most comfortable and easy going–happy and content. Hummm. . .

In this photograph lives a time long before the long life which would lay ahead for each of them and of how it would eventually play out. This is a moment of “before.” A moment in time when they had no idea of what lay ahead–of where or of how life would take them. Nor that 92 years from the day their picture was taken that a granddaughter would come to meet them.

The photograph is tenderly sweet–they are such a young couple obviously very much in love. As this is the moment of “before” they have no way of knowing what it is I know today—I know how the whole story turned out and yet the couple in this picture has no idea. It is all so amazing–life and of its stories–the now and the thens. A single moment frozen in time, before a life time of a legacy was to take hold.

There would be two sons, two daughter-n-laws’ she outliving one of the daughter-n-laws; 6 grandchildren, two who tragically did not survive past thirty and again, she outlived; 8 great grandchildren and now 6 great great grandchildren. And so it goes. .

It totally blows my mind as I gaze at this couple who lovingly and mysteriously gaze back at me, their granddaughter. I am happy that I did know them together, albeit it briefly—I wish it had been longer, much longer–as there are now so many questions.

As we enter this week of Thanksgiving. I must give thanks for so much more than the obvious things–those tangible blessings. I want to offer thanks to Paul and Anne, who loved one another. Who had two sons, both of whom they loved as well. Who would claim me as their grandchild even though I was adopted. They claimed me as theirs, always. They did for me as much as they did for the biological grand children. I was theirs and they were mine. . .and for that, I will always be thankful.

The link this image has to my life today is as mysterious as it is joyful. I must take nothing for granted for it all is a gift, no matter how small and distant.
I leave you with the moving words and thoughts of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton. . .

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

― Thomas Merton

Who in the heck is Sylvia Kay and what have you done with her?!

Ok, so the other day I shared with you my story about my brother.
His was a convoluted story of mental illness, adoption, ending with the eventual taking of a life.
And please, you must not ever think that since an adoption was thrown into that mix,
that adoption is ever a bad thing.
It was just one piece to his very sad story.
On the other hand, there is me… 🙂

I was adopted in 1959.
I was always told that I had come from a Florence Crittenden Home in Atlanta,
eventually making my way through the now defunct Atlanta Adoption Agency.
The Florence Crittenden “homes” were all part of a national organization that aided young single woman
who were pregnant–those having little or no resources or safe places to go.
Sent by their families to these “homes”,
many of these young pregnant women were not bearing the best of news.
A single pregnant woman in the 1950’s carried all sorts of taboos and connotations.

Now whether or not I actually took this route is a bit of that “gray” area surrounding my past.
However, this was my story and I was sticking to it!

I was almost 3 months old when I was adopted.
My parents told me all about being adopted when I turned 5 years old.
I suppose 5 is as good an age as any.
I remember my Dad sitting me down and reading me a book.
A book I came to be ashamed of and loathed—
I didn’t like to acknowledge its existence in the house after the day he read me the story.

It was a nice enough story I suppose…
all about mommies and daddies not being able to have children of their own but having
the opportunity of being able to “adopt” a baby who had no parents.
I was “special” because I was chosen.
Hummmmm…
Really?…special!?
‘Special’ because I was “abandoned” and this poor couple couldn’t have their own child,
so they had to come “pick me” like a piece of fruit…
Hummmmm…
What kind of happy story this was proving to be!”…or so thought my young mind.

I do vaguely remember having to go down to what I know now was a social worker’s office and sit around
“playing” so the social worker could monitor if I was turning out to be “well adjusted”
(had they stopped this little practice by the time Ed, my adopted brother rolled around, as anyone could have seen his adjustment levels were slightly off, we wouldn’t be talking about Ed).

My parents had some friends who had also adopted a little girl at the same time.
We played together and our parents hung out together a good bit.
I hated spending time with these people because they constantly talked about this adoption business
like it was cutting edge material.
They even acknowledged the Adoption day for their daughter like it was another kind of birthday.
Oh my Lord, what was wrong with these people I wondered.

I didn’t like to talk about it.
I didn’t want my parents reminded that they had “something” wrong with them.
I felt sorry for my parents and I didn’t want people reminding them things weren’t as they should be.

Little did I realize that things were indeed as they should be because we were a family—–
(but then they wanted another baby and got Ed and it was downhill after that,
but I digress again—–the moral of that story,
maybe it’s best to be happy with the one).

Never ever did anyone in my family ever make me feel as if I was anything but a part of the family.
My grandparents loved and doted on me just as they doted on my older cousins.
Dad had ruined my life by giving me the “nick-name” of Julie (see the post on passports),
which, at the time, seemed fine
(again see the post on the whole passport fiasco to understand my sarcasm here)…and so life rocked along.

We never talked about it, that being the whole adoption topic, because remember,
I was “protecting” their sad feelings—or so I always rationalized.
Crazy I know, but what can I say.
Always the old soul in the young body
(now it’s just an old soul whose body had finally caught up—but I digress again).

One day, while I was in college, I found myself in UGA’s massive library working on a paper.
I can’t recall what course or paper it was that I was writing at the time,
but as I was digging around amongst the books, buried in the back on one of the myriads of shelves,
I found some books on adoption.
Curious, I pulled all of them off the shelf,
carrying them back to the table, and begin pouring over what they had to say on the subject.

The next time I was home I found myself asking Mom some questions.
She had limited information as that was how it was done back then.
My “legal” birth certificate listed Mary Julia and my parents as my parents—–
there was no mention about any adoption.
The only thing missing was time of birth…hummmmm.
It’s as if life started for me the day they brought me home—
those missing months prior was a time non-existence.

Mother told me what she had been told by the Agency at the time they got me.
My biological parents had been older…not young teens but rather late 20s.
They were in love but for some reason, could not marry.
My biological mother was petite (I’m short but a far cry for “petite”),
she was popular, a cheerleader (oh dear Lord, a far cry from my tomboy self) and loved art…hummmmmm….
I was an art major at the time, interesting.

After reading a good bit on the subject and talking to various folks,
I understand a few things about adopted kids.
One tidbit I found interesting was that most of the time when a woman is pregnant with a child,
a child she most likely either resents or knows that she is immediately giving up, those feelings
are somehow transferred through the womb—

I also know that many adopted folks deal with the concept of rejection, more so than “regular” folks.

It’s that whole abandonment issue.
All of which now makes tremendous sense to me.

Also, there may be issues with anger and/or simply establishing solid relationships in general,
as all of these deep-seated feelings tend to act as defense mechanisms in an adopted individual.
It all makes sense to me, as I’ve lived it but I’m certain there are those scientific among us
who would disagree—but that’s ok.
I just know what my life has been like…

I love history.
You may realize that by now if you’ve read any of my previous posts.
But the funny thing is that I don’t really know my own history—and that is frustrating.

I love the whole genealogy thing, as one of my grandmothers did extensive research.
She was a Daughter of the Revolutionary War, the Confederacy, the Huguenot Society, etc…
she’s on the freaking Mayflower for heaven’s sake…but I am not, not really.
My spot on her “tree” is not real—
I’m supposed to be on someone else’s tree.

This is what bothers me.
Terribly.
I don’t like gaps—things should be filled in.

It also bothered me when I was pregnant with my son.
The doctors always begin asking about all of my medical histories.
My response is always the same “Who knows??—I’m adopted.”
Is there a history of cancer, heart disease, some other odd malady??—
It’s anybody’s guess.

My son is taller than my husband and myself—he’s built differently.
Big strong, broad shoulders. Very handsome.
Where did all of that come from?
He suffers from migraines. I do too…
But where did I get that from?

He has struggled with a learning disability and dyslexia. I’m pretty sure I did too.
Where did that come from?
I look in a mirror and wonder who it is I look like.
As I age, how will that be?

All of my little medical ups and downs…who gave me all of that?
I pass people on the street and find myself often wondering if I’ve not passed my parents,
maybe a brother or a sister…

When mother died and I was just 25, and yet to be a mother myself, I found myself at times,
so desperately wanting a mother…
someone who I could confide in, someone who could understand me, someone who could offer advice,
someone who knew the road I was traveling and could tell me what to expect.
When I finally did become a mother myself—boy did I miss having a mom’s help!
It was all solo.
No instruction manual and no mother—Good Lord!!

But people never believed it when I told them I was adopted.
I looked a great deal like mom and dad.
Mother and I both had that oh so southern drawl.
Mother’s, however, was much prettier.
They were my parents and I always knew that to be so—
but I always had the nagging holes, the questions, and the missing pieces to the puzzle.
And of course the obviously painful question—
I always thought I was a cute, good kid, why would someone give that up???!!
Just walk away?

I have several long time, dear friends who wonder much of the same things about me as I do.
They have been very encouraging if I ever wanted to go on the quest to “find out”
but I’ve also always heard that if the biological parent(s) wanted to find you,
they would have done so on monumental occasions—a 16th or 21st birthday, etc.
I also have heard horror stories of other adopted adults locating biological families,
regretting the whole ordeal.
I certainly don’t want that.
I want an Oprah moment.
Who doesn’t?

As long as my dad is alive, I’ve decided that I would not go on this quest.
I think it would hurt his heart.
He lived through, barely may I add, the ordeal with my brother—
losing the same child basically twice—first through the annulment and then by the suicide.
I just didn’t/don’t think I could let him know I was on a quest….

I did however, do a little research and found a site for the state of Georgia—
a place for those wanting to adopt, or those who had been adopted—Families First.
For $35 I could send off for some non-identifying information.
“Ok” I thought, what harm could/ would that be.
What exactly would non-identifying information mean?

I send a check, filled out some forms, and proceeded to wait.

A few weeks passed, I began to forget about my mini-quest…
until one sunny spring afternoon, a packet arrives.
Oh, Lord—this is it—this is “me”
A history of me…
Hummmmm…
My name. My name!!!
Would it be…Katherine?
Elizabeth?
Something beautiful, pretty—and not a nickname that has proven difficult.

I poured over the paperwork.
I read the facts.
Birth weight, size, time of birth.
Hospital. Hospital??
My “official birth certificate” states I was born at Piedmont.
Not so on this now original certificate.
What the heck??? Why is that I wonder—and how very odd.

I read the story given by the social worker who worked with the hospital and that of my “my mother”.

The mother’s, my mother’s story, seems really sad.
It’s a long story, one I’ll save for another post.
More questions than indeed answers.

The parents, my parents it seems, did love one another.
One came from a well to do family, one not so much.
It appears the families may have known one another–or at least her brother-n-law knew my “father”.
She moved from somewhere, in what I’m assuming to be south Georgia, living alone,
with no one ever knowing she was pregnant.
There were two states involved.
Something tragic occurred and there was a separation.

She was a nurse, living alone in Atlanta.
She had no prenatal care. (Idiot!!)
She gave birth and immediately left the hospital, all the same day.
Just walked away.
Wow!
Why?
There was a foster home, then the adoption agency.
More questions, with very few answers.

Sylvia Kay.
Are you kidding me??!!
No offense to any Sylvias or Kays out there, but I just knew I was a Katherine or an Elizabeth…
a Katie or a Beth.

I suppose it’s that southern fascination of our love of Katie Scarlet O’Hara (to be said in a very southern accent).
Oh well, I suppose I’m sticking with my adopted Mary Julia!

And so yes, there are more questions than answers.
I will, I suppose, one day investigate further, but that shall wait—that will be later.
I do know that time is running out I suppose, as my biological parents, if they are still alive,
are aging, just as we all are aging.
Do I want to establish a relationship—no, not especially?
I have a family.
I do have questions however and curiosities, as that is to be expected.
But all of that is, I suppose, for another Scarlet!
And so it shall be…..