Today, we have a guest post from an adoptive mother named Jay Iyer. Many of you are probably already familiar with Jay from the many insightful and supportive comments she leaves at one of our favorite blogs, First Mother Forum. Jay has kindly agreed to let us post her thoughts on Lorraine Dusky’s new memoir, Hole in My Heart*. In an earlier post, She Changed My Life, I gave my perspective as an adoptee on Ms. Dusky’s first memoir, so we are delighted to offer a different perspective, that of an adoptive parent, on Lorraine’s second memoir.
Jay and her family live and work (and go to school) in beautiful San Diego, California.
So here is Jay Iyer in her own words:
Imagine you have amnesia. You have no knowledge of who you are, of how you came to be where you are, of crucial genetics that shaped the person you are. You have adults, loving and caring even, who call themselves your parents and who offer to provide you whatever you need, anything you need, to be happy. And yet, what you want is what these parents, regardless of their best intentions, cannot give you. You want to know what makes you, you. When someone says, “you have high cheekbones” or “you have such a distinct laugh,” you don’t see or hear the continuum of humanity – the history, the ancestry, which led to the most important creation in your life: You. Your identity that is central to your being has vanished, and there is nothing that can fully recover that loss, ever.
This is life for many adoptees, a complicated journey that is navigated in a void. While reunions with their biological families often can help answer questions and fill in some of the gaps, the bridge between dual families that adoptees must constantly and delicately travel can impose a strain. Through no fault of their own, whether or not an adoption was needed, the adoptees must bear the burden of this strain.
Lorraine Dusky’s new book, “Hole in My Heart,” cleverly weaves these complexities for adoptees into her own incredible and bittersweet story of loss and reunion. Her tale of a life well lived, full of dramatic coincidences and ground-breaking forays into journalism at a time when women barely were permitted to dip their toes into news areas that did not concern home décor or fashion, is as fascinating as it is sad, overridden by the heartbreak she was forced to endure because it simply was not acceptable to be single and pregnant and keep your baby. As for her daughter, Jane, who lived life as an adoptee, that is a journey every adoptive parent should read about, to become a more empathetic adoptive parent.
I walked away from this book with many feelings, two of which stand out. One is of admiration for how Lorraine Dusky lives her life: philosophical, passionate, optimistic, forward-thinking despite the struggles she has faced. The other is a sense of urgency regarding the need to unseal birth records that are the doors to truth for adoptees. Lorraine’s memoir, which details her lifelong advocacy in this area, makes it clear that it is possible to grant adoptees this vital information while preserving the privacy of the few biological parents who desire anonymity. If the Supreme Court can recognize a right to dignity in the Constitution, as elucidated in its recent opinion legalizing gay marriages nationwide, should a right to one’s identity be too far behind? I hope not.
*To learn more about this book, please see the link on the right-hand side of the blog.