Category Archives: Government

Why are There So Many Adoption Secrets?

As most adoptees, I wanted to know how I came to be. “We chose you,” did not answer any of my questions. I wanted a story. My birth story. Hell, I never even knew what time of day I was born so I could do an astrological chart. Why did my adoptive parents keep the story of my birth a secret? Why are there so many secrets associated with adoption?

Times have changed. Mila Kunis is pregnant with Ashton Kutcher’s baby. They are not married. Olivia Wilde is pregnant with Jason Sudeikis’ baby. Not married. Jessica Simpson, Snookie, and the famous Kardashians had children without ever getting married. Savannah Guthrie announced at her wedding that she was pregnant. Women have always gotten pregnant with or without benefit of marriage. However, in the old days, shotgun weddings were common. Not so much today.

In the olden days, and, unfortunately, for many families today, getting pregnant without being married was considered a sin. It confirmed sex took place. And that was bad. Of course, the only difference between girls and unmarried women who get pregnant and those who don’t, are those who don’t are better at using birth control. So why is there such secrecy in adoption? Why are there so many birthmothers searching for the babies they gave up and why are so many adoptees searching for their birth parents? Why has the system made it so difficult to find each other? To find an answer, we need to understand why babies are put up for adoption. Why are so many girls coerced into relinquishing a child. Is it shame? Greed? Love? I’m trying to understand how a child can be taken from its mother against her will. Here are some possible scenarios.

I get it. A sixteen-year-old girl gets pregnant. She doesn’t want anyone to know. She’s embarrassed. Maybe she was fooling around with a boy. Any boy. Maybe it was a one night stand. Maybe they were at a party. Maybe she had too much to drink. Maybe it was her boyfriend. She’s afraid he won’t like her anymore if he finds out she’s pregnant. Maybe he is planning on going to college, and if he figures out that she’s going to have a baby, he’ll want to do the right thing and stay home and get a job. But that would ruin his life. He’d never get a chance to become that doctor, lawyer, president that he could have been if he didn’t have to cut his schooling short to stay home and help raise a child. Maybe she puts her baby up for adoption to protect him. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. She tries to move on with her life. Can she?

Or, this sixteen-year-old girl can’t tell her mom. Her mom goes to church each week. Her mom goes to confession, attends pot-luck dinners. She sells her cupcakes at the church fundraisers. What would her mom say if she knew her daughter got knocked-up? Her mom would be embarrassed.

Okay, this sixteen-year-old girl, when she can no longer hide her growing belly under her oversized sweatshirts, even in the summer, finally gets the nerve to tell her mom the secret she’s been hiding, gets whisked away to her aunt’s house in Iowa to have the baby in secret, so no one will know and ruin her reputation. I mean, ruin her mother’s reputation. Her family’s reputation. This girl doesn’t want to give away her baby. She is coerced into doing it so she won’t bring shame on the family.

What world is this? This might have been reality thirty, forty, fifty years ago. But today? Now that sixteen-year-old girl is a mom, maybe a grandmother. No one could possibly blame her for anything she could have done as a child. As a teen. She desperately wants to find the baby she gave up for adoption. But she can’t. It’s a secret. That birth certificate, with her name on it, and possibly the father’s name on it, has been sealed for many years. She doesn’t know who adopted her baby. And she doesn’t know where to start looking. She’s hoping, praying that someday, the child she was forced to give up, is looking for her. She posts to Facebook every day, using the same last name she had when she put the baby up for adoption, hoping to be found. Praying for a reunion. Maybe this child was lucky enough to have adoptive parents who will show her her adoption papers. Will help her find the birth mother who let her go. Maybe not because she wanted to, but because she felt she had no other choice. She couldn’t bring shame to her family.

Or, there was another sixteen-year-old girl who got pregnant. She too couldn’t tell her mom fearing her mom might want to make her have an abortion, or might make her have the baby and give it away. She keeps the pregnancy hidden. Too long. By the time her mom finds out, it’s too late for choices. She has to keep the baby. Her baby. She grows to love her baby. Doesn’t want to give it up even though that would bring shame to the family. What does she do? Her mom takes the choice away from her. Her mom decides to raise the baby as her own. The sixteen-year-old girl becomes a “sister.” How can she ever tell anyone later? Besides, who’s going to ask? The baby does look like a family member.

Another sixteen-year-old girl. She finds out she’s pregnant and can’t tell her mom because she was adopted. That meant her mom couldn’t get pregnant. She couldn’t imagine how her mom would possibly react knowing that, more than anything, her mom wanted to have a child, and couldn’t. She can’t tell her mom she got knocked-up when her mom tried for years to get pregnant. She secretly gets an abortion, a choice easier than confronting her mom.

Another sixteen-year-old girl. She finds out she’s pregnant and can’t tell her mom because her mom’s new husband is the father. Rape. The girl runs away. If the police find her they will just try to bring her back home. No. That house is no longer her home. She keeps the baby, but refuses to tell her who the father is. Anyone would understand why this should be a secret. She just tells her child, she doesn’t know who the father is.

An eighteen-year-old girl finds out she’s pregnant. She talks to her mom. She tells her mom she wants to have this baby. The mom goes off the deep end. They just spent $25,000 on her first year of college. This is no time to have a baby, the mom insists. Don’t be a fool. You have plenty of time to have a baby. Now’s the time for you to get your degree. Finish your education. Then, when you have graduated, are married, settled down, then you can start thinking about a baby. Don’t ruin your life. This college freshman, no longer having the courage to ask for her mom’s help, gives in. She gives the baby up for adoption. For a piece of paper. She never stops thinking about that baby. Missing her. Asking herself, was this degree, this piece of paper, worth it? Her answer is always the same. No. She wants to find her baby. Or at least know that her baby is safe. Healthy. Happy. She starts looking. Even after she has more children, each one reminds her of the one she can’t hold in her arms.

A forty-year-old woman finds out she is pregnant. Miracle? Maybe. Surprise? Definitely. Unfortunately, this woman is married. And her husband has been away for months. Many months. She doesn’t know when or if he is coming back. But he’s the father of her other children. They are a family. Should this fling break up her home? She gets the news. Her husband is returning home. Can they try to work things out? He’ll be better. He promises. She tries her best to hide her pregnancy from her children. When the baby is born, she puts the baby up for adoption. Who gets the baby? The baby-daddy. Now, we’ve got the birthmom keeping her pregnancy hidden from her husband, who is returning from God-knows-where. And we’ve got the baby being raised (adopted) by the wife of the man who cheated on her. Obviously, this adoptive mom can’t tell the baby how she came to be since that would be admitting that her husband cheated on her. It would mean divulging a secret that has been buried down deep. All the while, the adoptive mom sees the “other woman” in her baby’s face each and every day. The adoptive daughter truly understands the Cinderella story. She lives it every day.

And this is just the start. Shame. Shame. Shame. Secrets destroy families.

Call Me Ella - An Adoption Memoir

Click for sample or to purchase book.

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Original Birth Certificates for New Jersey Adoptees

The headline in NJ.com read: Bill opening birth records for adoptees approved by NJ Assembly panel.

The main story in NJCARE read:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Adoption Hearing was heard before the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee. It was voted out of committee 4-0. You can listen to the hearing by going to the home page of the NJ Legislature and click on Archived Hearings.  Ask your Assemblyperson to support A1259 which will give adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.

Are we, adoptees born in New Jersey, finally getting closer to getting our original birth certificates? My birth certificate, the “official certified copy” of my birth certificate, is dated one year after my birth. It lists my adoptive parents’ names as if they had given birth to me. Yes they raised me. Yes, they were my family. My mom and dad. But they were not my birth parents. They were not responsible for bringing me into the world. Isn’t it illegal to falsify documents? Doesn’t the state realize that they are depriving me the right to know who I am? Where I came from?

In 2011, Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the adoptee birth certificate bill, insisting anonymity for mothers. He said the records should be released but insisted that women who gave their kids up to adoption should have their anonymity preserved. What will happen this time? Will he veto the bill again?

Hasn’t he seen the movie Philomena? How many birthmothers would give anything to know the child they relinquished, many of whom where relinquished against their will, is healthy? Happy? Alive? Gov. Christie claimed birthmothers want anonymity. Maybe some do. From what I’ve read, most want to learn what happened to their child. Their flesh and blood.

I admit, I am not a birthmother. So I can’t speak for birthmothers. But I can speak as an adoptee. When I began my search twenty-something years ago, I wrote letters. Who did I write to? I lucked out, if I can use the term “luck.” Right before my mom passed away, she told me where she kept her important papers. In that box I found my adoption papers. This was the first time I learned what my birthmother’s last name was. Armed with that information, I wrote letters to people with my birth name. I finally hit pay dirt when my letter was passed on to a woman who was considered the “family historian.” (I thought it was so cool that my birth family had a “historian.”)Each letter I wrote included verbiage such as, “I don’t want to intrude on anyone’s life, I just want to know who I am.” Eventually, and this took many years, the historian and I fit together the pieces. We figured out who my birthmother had been. A woman who had passed away the year after my mom passed away.

I’m worried. Is Gov. Christie going to insist on protecting the anonymity of a woman who died twenty-five years ago? Whose husband has passed away and most of the children she raised? What if he insists that we get permission from the birthmother? Will this be a catch-22? She can’t give permission because she is dead. She can’t deny permission because she is dead.

I can’t begin to explain the feeling I’m anticipating the day I’m finally able to get my original birth certificate. To hold it in my hands. To see my name as it was written the day I was born. To finally feel whole. I’m anxious. I’m excited. I hope this bill passes before it’s too late. Before I’m dead.

I’d love to hear from other adoptees about how you will feel when you finally get your OBC. What are you expecting? And from birthmothers. Have you been looking? Are you hoping to be found?

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Click to get sample or purchase book.

The Adoption Reunion

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I must say, it feels good to see my book, Call Me Ella, in print now as well as Kindle, iBooks and Nook. This search took twenty-four years. Was it worth all the work to find out who I am? Yes, a million times over.

When I started searching, the Internet was in its infancy. Throughout the years, clues gradually popped up. In the end, it all made sense. I made sense. I feel a great sense of relief and accomplishment. I feel whole.

My search most likely would have been much easier if I had my original birth certificate. Hopefully, someday soon adoptees will have their birth certificates unsealed. In the meantime, you too can be your own detective. Never give up!

The paperback version: Call Me Ella -adoption. http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1494713993/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1388730568&sr=8-1&pi=SY200_QL40

23andMe Has Changed

Now on the 23andMe.com website:

Welcome to 23andMe.

At this time, we have suspended our health-related genetic tests to comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s directive to discontinue new consumer access during our regulatory review process.

We are continuing to provide you with both ancestry-related genetic tests and raw genetic data, without 23andMe’s interpretation.

If you are an existing customer please click the button below and then go to the health page for additional information, including information about refunds.

We remain firmly committed to fulfilling our long-term mission to help people everywhere have access to their own genetic data and have the ability to use that information to improve their lives.

Upon entering the site, please confirm you understand the new changes in our services.

I first got interested in the 23andMe DNA testing after hearing about Angelina Jolie having a preventive double mastectomy. Most adoptees don’t have the genetic information of their ancestors that would lead them to go to their doctors and order the specific test required to see if they carried the gene that could lead to breast cancer. We have to rely on regular mammograms and doctors’ visits, hoping that cancer would be caught in time. However, since annual mammograms are not recommended until age fifty, and many cancers start well before fifty, we adoptees could be in added danger without knowing our family history.

I procrastinated. I was a little nervous to get tested. I’d already done a DNA test with Ancestry.com and found many distant relatives. None genetically close. No 1st or 2nd cousins. After seeing so many people “like” the website on Facebook, I finally got the nerve to order the test from 23andMe. The immediate reply I got was that the test was not available in Maryland, where I live. When my daughter moved to Virginia I decided to order the test using her address. That would fool them. They’d never know. I’d finally get a little, long overdue, genetic information. Haha, they fooled me. Again, I waited too long. By the time I went online to order the test, it was too late. The FDA ordered them to stop testing.

I wondered why. Are they afraid we wouldn’t know what to do with the information? Are they afraid we’d all go out and do something rash, like see a doctor, if we learned we had a potentially dangerous gene? Most people who aren’t adopted have an alcoholic uncle who shows up at family gatherings. Do they stop having children because they might have an alcoholic gene? Or if their aunt died from ovarian cancer, do they run out and get a hysterectomy?  What is the FDA afraid of?

I would like to get tested. For $99, I’m sure I wouldn’t get the same info that Angelina Jolie got for $5,000. But this test might lead me to go to my doctor and ask more questions. Perhaps order more tests. Or specific tests. It’s the unknown that scares me. I want to know more. Please.

What do you think? Maybe the government, or the FDA, could offer a basic gene screening with the results going directly to our doctor. That way, when the doctor asks me for the hundredth time, is there anyone in your family…? I don’t have to answer, “I’m adopted. I don’t know.”

What are your thoughts?

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To Angry Adoptees

I am an adoptee. I believe I have the right to my original birth certificate that has been denied to me by the state of New Jersey. That being said, I need to point out that I am not an angry adoptee. Yes, I did have a love/hate relationship with my mom. Notice, I said “my mom.” I didn’t say, “My adoptive mother.” My mom was my real mother, whether she gave birth to me or not. Giving birth doesn’t make a person a mother. What makes a mother is someone who feeds you, takes you to the doctor when you are sick, cares for you, makes you study, scolds you when she feels it’s necessary, or just when she loses her temper as we all do. A mom does your laundry, cooks chicken soup and cries at your wedding.

My mom was not perfect. She had a bad temper. And she made me practice the piano far too many hours for someone who obviously did not have enough talent to become a professional pianist. Maybe she had more confidence in me than I had in myself.

My mom was a great cook. I did not inherit my mom’s metabolism, or thick curly hair. I did not inherit my mom’s artistic abilities. But when my children beg for more of my chocolate cake, I tell them their grandma taught me how to bake.

By accident, I joined a Facebook page for people who are against adoption. People who hate their adoptive parents. Every time I logged on to the site, I read about adoptees who hated their a-mom. Despised their a-dad. They spent countless hours waiting to meet their bio-mom or dad. They fantasized about the woman who gave them life, then let them go. They put these people on a pedestal, assuming that they have spent countless years praying for the day when they would be reunited with the child they had to give up.

There are far too many women who were forced, or coerced, to relinquish their babies. This is one of the worst tragedies ever. How dare someone, a stranger, a relative, tell any woman or young girl that it would be better for another family to raise their child? How could anyone say that getting a college degree is more important than keeping your baby? Your flesh and blood? After she gets the degree, she could spend the rest of her life analyzing how she sold her soul, her child, for a piece of paper. A piece of paper that could have been postponed.

Shame on all the “grandparents” who refuse to help their daughters, those who didn’t plan on getting pregnant, raise their child and instead, force them to relinquish a part of them. A part of their family.

A greater shame on any politician who even dares an opinion on a subject that is non-of -their business.

Yes, I believe that adoption should be the last choice. The first choice would be for the birthmom to stay with the child.

That being said — I need to point out that the birthmother does not always want to meet the child they gave away. Yes, that may be hard to swallow. But for many, and I have read countless stories of heartbroken adoptees praying for the love of their birthmoms, who have experienced great disappointment. Many birthmoms, unfortunately, have moved on. Many have a new life. A new family. They don’t want to meet the child they relinquished for adoption. Or perhaps, they just want to know they made the right decision. They want to meet, but not have a relationship. Many adoptees have trouble accepting this.

For those who dislike their adoptive moms, I want them to know there are, I’m sure, just as many people who hate their bio parents. As I said before, giving birth doesn’t make one a parent. Pick up any newspaper, go online any day, and you’ll find stories about birth parents, natural parents, beating their children, locking them up, starving them, tossing them out on the street, or allowing a “boyfriend” to have his way with them.

Giving birth has nothing to do with parenting. Adopting has nothing to do with parenting. Parenting with love is all that matters. We need to do away with the labels. A mom is a mom. A dad is a dad. The only thing that matters is love. And remember — ultimately, we make our own families. We choose who we love. We need to love ourselves. We need to let others be human.

Angelina Jolie had Mastectomy to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie announced to the world that she had a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer. She says she hopes her story will inspire other women fighting the life-threatening disease.

Jolie wrote in the New York Times on Tuesday the operation had made it easier for her to reassure her six children that she will not die young from cancer, like her own mother did at 56.

“Like her own mother did.”

Jolie, for whom money is no object, chose to pay the $3,000 to be tested to see if she carried the faulty gene which would put her at a higher risk for both breast and ovarian cancer.

When she tested positive, Jolie said her doctors had estimated she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. “Once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy,” she said.

As an adoptee, when I go to my doctor and I’m questioned about my family medical history, all I can answer is, “I’m adopted. I don’t know.” For millions of adoptees like me with no medical information, we are at a loss. We don’t know if we are at risk for breast cancer. We don’t know if we should spend $3,000 to see if we carry the faulty gene. We don’t know if we are at risk for heart disease, or diabetes. We just don’t know.

When will adoptees finally be able to get access to their family history, their medical backgrounds, and other vital life-saving information? When will all adoptees be able to have access to their original birth certificates which most likely hold clues to information that could save their lives and the lives of future generations? When will the Federal Government step up to the plate and unseal the birth certificates of all adoptees rather than leave that determination to individual states? I was born in New Jersey. Governor Christie vetoed a ruling that would have allowed adoptees to get their birth certificates saying changes were needed “to avoid any unwanted breaches of privacy, and the potential chilling effect on adoptions.”

What chilling effects? From reading many letters from birth mothers, they want to know that the child they gave birth to is healthy and happy. Many women who gave birth before adoptions were legal also fought to pass the bill saying the adoption agencies never promised confidentiality. If Governor Christie won’t unseal my birth certificate my only other hope is to wait for the Federal Government to unseal my birth certificate.

But I’m tired of waiting. Everyone involved in my adoption has passed away. Will I have to wait until I’m buried to obtain my original birth certificate?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Unsealing Original Birth Certificates

Sometimes I wish I was running for president and, by law, had to produce my original birth certificate. Because now, I can’t. My records are sealed. The date stamped on the New Jersey birth certificate I have is thirteen months after my date of birth. I wonder what happened during that time. And what about the nine months before my birth. Don’t I have a right to know about my own birth? It’s my story.

It breaks my heart to see so many faces of adoptees and birth moms posting their birth dates on Facebook, like families searching for survivors after 9/11 or a devastating hurricane, hoping to find some family member who will recognize them. Who will know their story. Know who they are. Where they came from. Will want to meet them. Hug them. Tell them they were loved. They weren’t a mistake. They were a blessing. Maybe for another family, but a blessing non-the-less.

Wanting to know about our origins does not diminish our love for our adoptive family. The family who raised us. But no one should be denied the opportunity to know everything about themselves.

Hereditary illnesses. Genetic defects. Cancer. Heart attacks. Diabetes. Conditions passed on from one generation to the next. Those unwanted gifts from blood relatives. The questions on every medical questionnaire at every doctor’s office. I don’t know why there isn’t a place to check: adopted, history doesn’t apply.

Sealed records are not fair to the millions of adoptees searching for any information about their past or for the birth moms who want to find the children who’s birthdays they’ve remembered in silence every year. What can we do? I’m not sure. I’d personally like to take this to the Supreme Court. Realistically, I can’t do that alone.

Write to me. Comment. Tell me your feelings. Why you want to know about your origins. Why you would like to have your original birth certificate unsealed. Maybe together we can make a difference.

Why Romney Never had a Chance

I figured it out. 
It took quite a while. 
It was more than his words
It was the tone of his smile. 

Rather than glisten
With childlike glee
His eyes revealed pain
When they should have crinkled 
You see. 

Eyes tell the story
Far more than words. 
His eyes remained steadfast
Defying his blurbs. 

While his lips turned upwards
Portraying joke or joy
His brow-line remained planted
As if disdain was his ploy. 

Only once did I detect 
A twinkle of joy
On the occasion of loving
His wife, grandchild or boys.  
Aside

My two adult step children visited this past weekend when they were in town for a family wedding. We had just finished a late dinner. After clearing the dishes from the table, it was gift time. I returned to my … Continue reading

Adopted in New Jersey

Having been adopted in New Jersey, I was never able to obtain my original birth certificate. Growing up I begged my adoptive mother over and over for any possible information she might have about my birth mother until one day, shooting her foot through the kitchen wall she screamed, “Don’t ever ask me that again.” I guess that was the end of the story. For years I would go on believing I must have been the product of rape, incest or my birth mother just wanted to get rid of me. I never fantasized about being the daughter of famous celebrities who were unable to raise me fearing an illegitimate birth might ruin their careers. This was a few (?) years ago. At least I thought this was the end of the story until my mother was on her death bed.  Literally.

Mom put much effort into apologizing to me during those weeks I sat at her bedside trying to comfort her after we realized the end to her two year battle with cancer was near. “I know I was a bitch you,” came as a surprise to me.  I smiled, figuring it was probably the morphine talking, allowing her the freedom to let go of her pride for once in her life. “You were a lovable bitch”, I responded, with a wink and a smile, while my heart was breaking inside. Why couldn’t she have apologized years ago?  Why do they always wait until their deathbed?  It’s like the parents who know their children are struggling financially, but refuse them monetary help when they need it saving it instead for “the inheritance.”  By the time the will is read, the family is bitter and torn apart.

We both laughed.  For the first time in years, maybe ever, we talked.  Opened up.  In this dreary hospital room, with its green walls, threadbare divider curtains, IV drip, heartbeat monitor, this same hospital where my son was born, for the first time in my memory my Mom wasn’t judgmental.  Telling me she was proud of me I could only think, why did she wait until she was dying?  No one knew the pain I felt growing up.  I couldn’t tell her how she had hurt me. Not now. She was dying. I let her talk.

A week before she died she told me about a “lock box” that was hidden in the back of the top shelf in her bedroom closet. “There are important papers in there.” She said. Then she gave me the secret code. “Your daddy’s birthday”.

For the first time I was nervous being alone in her house, my childhood home.  Before this trip my only concerns involved the safety of my children as I had left both of them with their alcoholic father, trusting in God to watch over the three of them while I visited my dying mother, and how much longer my mother had to live, praying at this point that her pain would end soon.  As I prepared myself to open “the box, the secret hidden box,” I felt my heart pounding in my throat.

Balancing on a chair pulled up to the bedroom closet, reaching past the stacks of hat boxes, the silk scarves and leather gloves, my hand touched the metal of a small box, like a buried treasure.  I pulled the box down from the closet, placed it on her quilted bedspread and stared at it as I got comfortable in my usual position, legs tucked beneath me.  Memories started flooding into my head like the waters crushing back together after Charlton Heston parted the Red Sea. Like it was yesterday I pictured my Koko, surrounded by her litter of eight poodles, resting on the blood stained blanket right there, in front of this same mirrored closet door.

I looked at the box. After taking a deep breath I rotated the first cylinder to “6”.  The second was already in the correct position.  After easing the third cylinder into place I could feel the lid release and slowly open.  Although I had no idea what was in this treasure chest, I knew it contained something important.  I rifled through lots of papers.  Mostly insurance docs.  Itemized lists assigning values to the jewelry, furs, monogrammed silverware and the China my father shipped over from Hungary during the war.  “My inheritance”.

My parents weren’t wealthy by any means, but they liked their trinkets.

As I worked my way through the documents I came to a sudden halt.  My heart stopped.  “Adoption Papers”.  Oh my God. It listed my birth mother’s last name.  My eyes burned as hot tears flowed down my cheeks into my mouth. I could hardly read the documents my eyes were so filled. After removing my fogged over contact lenses, I was able to examine the hand typed court documents drafted so many years ago.  While I studied the pages, one memory came to mind.

“Don’t ever ask me that again”.  Was she telling me where this box was so I’d find the adoption papers and open a dialog?  Did she want me to ask her about this now?  Was she ready to talk?  She had apologized for being so mean to me all my life. She realized she had been unfair.  But was she ready to talk?  Is this why she told me about the box?

I returned to the hospital the next morning expecting her to ask me about the box. Did you find the box, do you have any questions?  I’m ready now to answer anything.  But no. She never mentioned the lock box and I didn’t have the heart, or guts, to bring it up at this time. She was dying. I wasn’t going to do or say anything that would upset her now. She had to be the one to broach the subject.  I waited. Nothing.

No matter how many disappointments my mother had in her life, she could never bring herself to talk to me about her greatest disappointment of all – that she could not give birth. She said nothing and I said nothing.

She died the following week. Her secret intact.

(This is an excerpt from my new memoir about my twenty-four year search to find out who this mysterious birth mother was. Along the way, I learned who my birth father was as well.)