Tuesday, February 3, 2015

An Adoption Story... 3 Generations Later

My Grandma was adopted.  There was never a time I can remember, that I didn't know this.  Maybe it was because it wasn't a secret that it was also not a big deal to me. In fact it really had no effect on my life.  Why would it.  I am three generations away from the situation.  I was raised by my biological parents and I am close to my biological grandparents. I know my people.
My Grandma (left) and her sister Kathy

Then in July 2014 I met my long lost great aunt Kathy... one of my Grandma's biological sisters.  We sat on my mom's deck and I am a little embarrassed to admit that I studied her.  The way she talked, the way she sat, her facial expressions.  I tried to soak up all of the alikeness I could observe between this new to me family member and us.  My Grandma, my Mom and I.

Kathy and I became Facebook friends... because, well I like her... and I assume that is protocol in the 21st century with long lost family members.

One day this photo showed up in my newsfeed:
My Great Grandmother with some of her grandchildren
When I saw it my body had some sort of grievous joy reaction... Not only did my Grandmother's Mother look like her... She acted like her too!  I bawled... clearly the fact that my grandma had been adopted about 68 years earlier was no longer not affecting me.  
(Clockwise from top left) My Great Grandmother Katherine (Kay). my Grandma Louise (age 37), Me, my Mother Lila (age 30)
My own mom pointed out to me recently that when I was born I was only the third blood relative my Grandma had ever met.  (The first two being my mom and uncle).  Profound really. 

Unfortunately by the time my Grandma found her biological family Kay had been deceased for about two years.  She was the only great grandmother that I had never met and that makes me a little sad.  
Kay with her young children (my Grandma's biological siblings)

What I can tell from reading what Kathy to me wrote about Kay she was an overcomer.

"The things I remember most about my mother are her strength and humor. She was also very intelligent, although the girls in their family did not have much education."

She was brave.

After my dad died, mom had to essentially start over.She was in her 50s, had to leave the farm, find a new place to live and a job. She moved to where we, Carol (my grandma's other sister) and I were going to school, rented a place and went out and found work. This was very courageous, because she had not had a paying job in decades."

She is perhaps where my urge to homeschool comes from:

"Some of my earliest memories are of playing cards with my parents. Mom was always very patient with teaching us, so Carol and I could play solitaire and cribbage before we went to school. (I used wonder why the other kids couldn't count by twos and fives) She taught us to knit and crochet."

Here I am 3 generations away from a young woman who gave up a baby girl for adoption and kept it a secret from nearly everyone, marveling over our similar noses, crying over her other children and grandchildren's memories, giggling over the fact that "she had a wicked sense of humor and would come out with an unexpected (and inappropriate at times) zinger when least expected."  

One rarely wonders what the consequences of our choices will be on future descendants.  I suppose even without trying we live in the moment.  I would imagine that as Kay's belly was swelling with child and she was preparing to bring her infant into the world, she thought of her baby and what that wee one would be... 
I wonder if she thought about my Grandma's family.  Tried to picture what her grandchildren would be like... and what kind of mother her daughter was. 

I ponder the hurt she must have felt giving up her wee baby and carrying that secret for so long.

I wish that I had gotten known her.

5 comments:

  1. We've got adoption stories right and left in our family. For generations. By blood or by choice, each and every member is one of the tribe.

    And yep, we've got a few overcomers in the bunch. I have no choice but to pray. Alot.

    Good to meet you this week!

    ;-}

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  2. A beautiful story and so nicely illustrated with pictures. Thank-you for sharing these tender thoughts with us.

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