Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Parent By Any Other Name Is Still A Parent

So November is National Adoption Month. I am usually so oblivious to the fact that I was adopted I don't pay attention to such things. However I'd like to share with you a poem I've carried with me since I first saw it.

Legacy Of An Adopted Child

Once there were two women
Who never knew each other.
One you do not remember,
The other you call mother.
Two different lives
Shaped to make yours one.
One became your guiding star,
The other became your sun.
The first gave you life
And the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love
And the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality,
The other gave you a name.
One gave you the seed of talent,
The other gave you aim.
One gave you emotions,
The other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile,
The other dried your tears.
One gave you up -
It was all that she could do.
The other prayed for a child
And God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me
Through your tears,
The age-old question
Through the years:
Heredity or environment -
Which are you the product of?
Neither, my darling - neither,
Just two different kinds of love.
-Author Unknown

My thanks to Abigail Van Buren for running this so many years ago.

I was adopted from a Catholic foundling home in Evanston, Illinois in 1941. I learned I was adopted when I was old enough to read and commented on a news story about adoptees. That's when my parents told me about my brother, who was also adopted a few years before, and me.

I've met so many people, especially lately, who were raised in dysfunctional families or were abused and I can do little but shake my head. Its a circumstance I can't comprehend. We had a great family life and I idolized my folks. When in high school and chaperones were needed for band trips and such my folks always made the time and I loved it. They were so much fun and everybody loved having them around. Thats just the kind of people they were.

We had our clashes and later on would laugh about them as being genetic differences. They little understood my artistic or musical leanings but they jumped on board full force. Often they found things within themselves of which they were unaware. If it hadn't been for those differences some substantial talents would have forever laid dormant. I was given every opportunity a youngster could want - at a sacrifice to themselves to be sure - but they loved me and backed me to the hilt.

Any lack of achievement on my part cannot nor should not be put back on them. It was my lack of responsibility for myself, pure and simple. I adored my mother, she was my role model and my best friend. I lost my dad too soon when he was 78. He looked and acted 60. I was fortunate to have had my mom until she was 95. There is still a tremendous void in my heart. I miss picking up the phone for a mom fix. I miss my dad's quiet strength and unequivocal love.

I never knew my birth parents and I never obsessed over it. I never felt deprived of anything. My adoptive parents WERE my parents. And I was smart enough over the years to tell them how much I loved them. I am at peace knowing that they passed on knowing they couldn't have been more loved.

Here's to you, Mom and Dad. I miss you and I love you.

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