A Poem For Wounded Relationships

I wrote this poem without any intention of making this public. However, in the last couple of days, I have received hundreds of emails from people who watched Closure on Netflix and felt inspired not only to write me, but to mend personal relationships that had previously been estranged. I hope this poem can serve as a response to your messages and as further fodder for positive reform.

THE BRIDGE

As I walk with my phone on airplane-mode

Uninterrupted by calls or texts

One song repeats, as my mind retreats

Into a fury of questions and hope


I wonder if The Bridge is strong enough

to hold my joys and your fears

Will his melanin and your lack thereof 

impact the color of our tears?


I’ve come to find beauty amidst the wondering

to embrace my partial truth

Your silence has demanded that I become content

with the unknowns about my youth


Here we stand at opposite sides

ready to venture across

You bring your frustration and I’ll bring my pain

Together we can relinquish these thoughts.


Without this meeting our song would sound different.

incomplete and empty, one-sided, not strong.

Without this attempt we’d stay disconnected

Cut off, detached, all wrong.


It is only through our mutual pain

and the trust hidden underneath our skin

That we can we truly respect ourselves enough

To face the truth within.


You think yourself to be so esoteric

so abstract, so strange, so rare.

we are actually way more alike than dissimilar

We both know alienation, trepidation and despair


The Bridge is our connection point

I hope you’ll meet me halfway

Let’s set aside the classism,

Let’s mend our gaps today.


We all experience dissonance in our lives. Times when we feel so disconnected from those for whom we care for so deeply. One key towards a healthier world is to strengthen relationships. Cross The Bridge.

A WORTHY VOICE: “I’ll take it to my grave.”

I was so grateful to have received a beautifully honest post submission from Jesse, a birthmother. Her voice is worthy to be heard. These are her words:

It was 1958,  I was 16 years old when I had my daughter. I came from a white, middle-class family – no one expected this from me.  I couldn’t even tell my family.  I am now 72 years old and I finally understand that all those years of therapy and trying to resolve that grief just wasn’t going to happen.  While watching the documentary, Closure, I lost my breath hearing your birthmother, Deborah say; “I’ll take it to my grave.” I now accept that the pain and anguish will go with me to my grave too, just like Deborah.  I understood Deborah’s secrecy.  I also understood her family’s anger with her for not trusting them with The Big Secret.  Explaining the lifelong grief and pain that comes with losing your baby is a hard thing to explain for anyone.  After searching for my daughter for 30 years, I finally found her 5 years ago! She denied any contact.  I learned that she is a professional musician (jazz pianist) in Chicago, this is beautiful because I also play jazz piano and my mother and both my grandmothers were classical pianists.  It is so sad that she has no idea where her music comes from.  I was able to see her at one of her performances a few years ago – anonymously, of course.  I sat just 15 feet away from her and watched her incredible talent for a couple of hours, then I got up and left without approaching her.  It was hard, indeed, but just seeing her face made the huge, gaping hole in my chest a little smaller.  I know she is well and doing what she loves.

My wish is that people – especially adoptive parents – are educated about the totality of adoption, including the dark side.  Some adoption agencies see people like me (and the other women in my birthmother group) as being bitter, angry birth mothers.  We may be that at times, but losing your child for any reason is life-altering and not in a good way.  People who lose a child due to a death have support and support groups there for them to work through their grief as much as they can.  Birthmothers are not allowed to grieve, we have no support sometimes, and in my generation, we were supposed to be quiet and disappear.  So we’re left with unresolved grief which manifests in depression, substance abuse, failed relationships, etc.  I know I did the right thing in relinquishing my daughter  but it was not a choice.  There was no choice – as it is for most of us, whether due to youth, poverty, family or societal pressure, or religious pressure.

Jesse 

Nature vs. Nurture

 PHOTO: Black and White twins – Kian and Remee Hodgson

It is clear that our DNA plays crucial roles in making us who we are physically, but to what degree “are” we our genes?

The age old debate of nature versus nurture swirls around in my head often as I hear so many people refer to newborns being adopted as a “blank slate.” Newborns – adopted or not – are certainly not “blank slates” (Tabula Rasa). Many behavioral geneticists have performed studies on adoptees and twins, and have learned that human development does not derive solely from environmental forces – wealth, social privilege and education cannot be assigned to a genetic code.

To what extent are we governed by external factors (nature), and how much is genetic? I think the answer lies in how we individually want to interpret it.  We can hear explanations for dwarfism, Parkinsons, and breast cancer, and try to ascertain that the reason we now have this condition is because of our genetics. However the reality is that our genes can only tell us if we have that mutation. Cancer, among other conditions, may in fact have more to do with our environment (nurture). However, people hear what they want to hear, think what they want to think, and assign blame to whom they’d like to assign the blame to.

I thought that finding my roots, and learning more about my genes and my background would give me answers, but it’s actually left me with a lot more questions. I, along with countless others, would like to pinpoint reasons behind seemingly innate talents, distinct mannerisms, IQ, susceptibility to mental health issues, or alcoholism etc., down to either nature or nurture, however I’m learning that though genes play a large role in our creation, much of who we are is also quite random.

That randomness is hard to accept.