My Dad

My dad is ill. He has been for some time.

We are not sure exactly what is wrong (not yet) but he is the kind of ill that comes with words like “hospice” and “five wishes” and “medical durable power of attorney”. It has been emotional (and no doubt will continue to be so) and a bit challenging. I am a strong supporter of dying with dignity and supporting ones right to choose how they live out their days with a terminal illness.  You would be surprised how many people DO NOT believe this.  I have spent days researching, calling, counseling, crying, talking, thinking and planning for my mother, my father, my family and how we will manage after he is gone…whenever that may be.

And I have thought of my daughter. Even in the midst of intense emotional turmoil, she pops up in my thought stream. When he dies, do I tell her?  When I draft the obituary (I am likely the one who will do that), how many grandchildren do I say he is survived by?  These thoughts and more caused me to pull over the other day.  Something about that dashboard confessional, the music of TSO (An Angel Came Down)  and thoughts of my dying father that never got to meet my first born child, his first born grandchild, were too much to bear.

My Dad and me at my wedding in 1996. He was signing to me in Polish here. Moja droga ja cie kocham. (Polish for "I love you so")

A friend, a fellow first mother that lost her adoptive mother (yeah, she is an adoptee AND a first mom) some time ago told me that whatever I do, I should “make my peace”.  I assured her I have made my peace with my dad.  He can die with no unfinished business between us.  He apologized to me years ago for the loss of my daughter from our family. He told me, in his own stilted way, that he was sorry.  That sentiment alone healed a world of hurts for me.  Even before that day I had come to grips that my father was not a good dad, not the dad I dreamed of, but he was the only dad I had. He was a product of his own upbringing, his own difficult birth and life in WWII Poland.  Peace was found for us long ago.

And yet it does make me sad, still, that my dad never got to meet her.

I am uncertain if I will tell her when he dies. My hope is that I will be allowed to say he is survived by fourteen grandchildren. It is the truth.

Decreased Reunions

An online friend, unrelated to ehbabes.com, recently noted that the number of reunions for our group seems to have decreased. She wondered if we had hit a new barrier or if the change in the Illinois adoption laws had changed our focus.

The short answer is yes…and no.

I must be candid and state that years ago, when ehbabes.com was first formed (circa 2003) I aggressively sought members for both our support group and our search efforts. I did not do this for any obnoxious marketing reason. Rather, I did it for selfish and what I thought were benevolent reasons. The selfish part was rooted in my own desire for community, for friends that could relate to what I was feeling at that time. I wanted to connect with other mothers who had been victimized by Kurtz. I needed to talk to someone, anyone that would understand and validate me.

I executed google searches for phrases like “surrendered my daughter to Easter House”. Not surprisingly I would find postings on adoption.com, cousinconnect and other sites. I learned that the adoption.com reunion registry allowed one to search by agency name, even by state, year of birth. I found most of my Kurtz network agency victims through that site. I would reach out to the posters and we would connect. My connecting was not limited to mothers or fathers who had surrendered children to Kurtz. I also reached out to adopted persons. And so our group was formed.

When I would first contact someone, I would typically send them the URL of my site and the yahoogroup. They might answer me, they might not. If they did, we generally started dialogue, developed a relationship and eventually, in many cases, started their own search for their mother or child.

Since my own reunion, my outreach efforts have all be ceased. I no longer go looking for people. I don’t troll adoption boards, no longer google Kurtz network keywords and rarely read the google alerts that pop up in my inbox. The reasons for this change are varied. The two most compelling are 1) personally, I don’t need that support anymore. Not only do I have it in the existing network of friends I have cultivated but as I have changed and grown, so have my needs and 2) less personally, I don’t feel I have the right to intrude on anyone’s life the way I once did. Granted, I “intruded” with good intention and never, ever did I search for someone with out the searching parties consent but I did, much as I regret it, pop up in the email boxes as what some might consider emotional spam. Just because someone put their name online as part of a passive search did not necessarily grant me permission to ping them.

I used to think differently. I felt it was okay to say “hey, hi, I am like you and I can help you if you want it”. I thought, when I was still young and green and naive and hopeful in my own reunion I was doing something good. Something helpful. I thought the individuals I contacted would appreciate it. I was looking forward to reunion. I wanted to share the love, the hope. I was all shiny and smiley and lacking experience of what it really meant to be in reunion. Sure I had READ about it but I hadn’t actually lived it.

Now that I approach nearly six years in my reunion (of sorts) I realize, now, I was also bringing the potential for pain into those lives. Now that I know what it is like to have a non reunion I don’t want to be peddling the idea to others. I don’t want to be a reunion pusher. I believe today individuals should come up on this decision on their own without my intrusive knock-knock in their email account door. One can argue divine intervention (and they have) and suggest that I was doing what I was meant to do. I am not inclined to agree. I genuinely regret that I helped certain people. While the majority of the reunions we have had were surprisingly good (requiring work by both parties) I still feel deeply sad for friends like my friend K that did not have a reunion. Friends that well, are where I am at — or worse. I feel, perhaps wrongly so, that I caused that. It could have been avoided if I had minded my own business.

For these reasons (and several others) I have decided to merely maintain a registry and keep the ehbabes.com site active but not very dynamic. As such, our numbers are down. I am okay with that.  Searching individuals can easily come upon me/my site/the yahoogroup via their own searches. I hold firmly to my belief that adopted persons have the right to their records, to know their family of origin. I will do almost anything I can to insure that happens for individuals separated via Kurtz. However, they will find me. I will not find them. They will do it in their time. Not mine.

For those that I did help, I extend a personal apology. I really had no idea what it was like to live with this.

Now I do.