When I was a kid we were playing detective one day and we were thinking of mysteries to solve. And I said, “I know! We can find our parents.” My buddy Mark looked very confused. That was no mystery to him. His parents were just up the street in his house. Not much of a mystery there.
“No, no,” I said. “Our real parents!” I’ve long since come to dislike that phrase “real parents.” What I meant was my biological parents. Adoptees disagree about the word for these parents, especially when it comes to the women who gave birth to us. These mothers are called “birth mothers” or “bio moms” or “first mothers” or some other name but it all means the same thing. Most adoptees do not ever say “real mother” because our adopted moms who raise us seem pretty damn real too.
To cut to the chase, I grew up to be an investigative reporter and I used those skills to find my biological father and mother and to reunite with my mother and two full blood siblings. It took me almost half a century to do it so I guess you can say that detective game got kind of out of hand. I discovered a lot of really critical things about my identity at age 45. I’m over 60 now and I’m still learning things about my DNA and heredity that would have been really nice to know when I was a teenaged boy.
I’m going into all this because this week on the podcast I talk to another adult adoptee named Amy Geller. Amy is a therapist in New Jersey. She and I met through a mutual friend named Anne Heffron who is also an adoptee who has written a wonderful book called YOU DON’T LOOK ADOPTED.
You might think adult adoptees get together to bitch and moan about our parents and to write so-called “misery memoirs.” This is a damn lie. The truth is that WAY too much attention is given to orphanages or foster care or adoption as being the source of great misery and suffering and WAY too LITTLE attention is given to what happens when anyone for any reason removes a baby from its mother and never puts it back.
In Amy’s case it meant she had a tough time sticking and staying in relationships with a man. This is not unusual. A lot of us are runners. It’s true of women, true of men, doesn’t matter. We hit a certain point in an intimate relationship and you might as well cue up FREE BIRD and leave the door open. We’re outta there.
But here’s the cool thing that i have personally witnessed in the case of Amy. Since I have known her Amy met a great guy. They started dating. They got along really, really well. Amy did a ton of work on herself. And she did not run. In fact (music swells) THEY GOT MARRIED! DURING COVID!
If you know anything at all about abandonment or abandoners or have any of your own personal experience with how incredibly difficult it is for some of us to stick and stay, you know what a HUGE deal this is! I am just in awe of her efforts.
We adoptees are very much overrepresented in the healing professions (like nursing, counseling, therapy, etc.) But most therapists and ministers and counselors are smart enough to know they need healing themselves.
I’m SO proud to call her my friend.
So when we finally met face to face a year ago in a luxury apartment overlooking lower Manhattan, we could instantly jump into the deep end in talking about adoption, reunion, abandonment, and best of all healing!
This is NOT a sad sack conversation. It’s really full of hope and pretty dawggone inspiring if you ask me!
I hope it encourages you or someone you know. Amy is in reunion with her biological father. She has spoken with her birth mother but the two have never met face to face. These things are never simple or easy.
I flew a long way to get from last week’s conversation (Tampa) to this week’s conversation (Jersey City) but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I hope you like it! Let me know!
The ManListening Podcast featuring a conversation with Amy Geller, LCSW, drops on Thursday, September 10, 2020, on ManListening.com , Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or in most podcast players.