After days of procrastinating, I finally went on one of the adoption registry website.
I looked at the first field: “Who am I searching for?”
- Biological Mother
- Biological Father
I could only tick one box. I ticked “mother”. Then I erased it. Tick, erase. Tick, erase. Tick, erase.
It was early summer 1994. I found myself in a dimly lit room, looking expectantly at the three women sitting across from me. One of them was ‘center chair” and she was flanked on each side by the other two. The 50ish woman in the center chair, who had introduced herself as Ellen, tucked a lock of her thick salt and peppered hair behind her ear and peered at me over her glasses. It seemed a long while before she spoke.
“Is your mother still living?” She asked me.
“Yes,” I said. “Alive and well.”
I thought I detected a look of surprise on her face. “Does your mother, by any chance, use drugs?” She asked cautiously.
Her question startled me. It seemed to come from left field. But then again the whole evening was rather left field for me. A friend of mine who was taking classes at the Berkeley Psychic Institute had invited me to this Women’s Healing Clinic because I had recently been hospitalized and diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Two months prior, what had begun as aching feet had turned into ‘ascending paralysis’ in the course of a week. Luckily I did not lose my ability to walk, but was experiencing intense muscle weakening and nerve pain. Amidst the physical pain, I was trying to deal with the emotional pain: the feeling of being “struck down” in the “prime of my life.” (Didn’t God/universe know that I had Great World Saving plans? Illness had NOT at all been part of this plan.)
Knowing that I was struggling, my friend thought that the Healing Clinic might somehow be of benefit. Up until a few weeks ago, I had rolled my eyes at my friend’s talk of past lives and karmic cords and now here I was, stepping into her world. What did I have to lose? My world had just been totally turned upside down, so “normal” was now up for redefinition.
When I arrived on this particular Wednesday evening, I had no idea what I’d said ‘yes’ to, except my desire to heal and have my world be put right again. The facilitator of the evening explained that part of the evening included an intuitive reading by graduates and teachers of the Institute.
When it was my turn, I was ushered into the dim room, where Ellen, looking like a librarian in her gray linen suit, explained she would be the “center chair”. She introduced the other two women as recent graduates and said they would be assisting her. None of them donned flowing skirts, peasant blouses and bangles; I realized I needed to update my image of a psychic—or rather, intuitive.
Ellen invited me to share anything I was wanting clarity about and explained that they would ground themselves, do a brief meditation and see what information was ready to come forth. I shared that I would like more clarity about my health situation.
But then came Ellen’s question. Did my mother use drugs? Absolutely not! Mom was a fairly straight-laced Catholic girl who had gone to an all girls’ nursing school and married my father, a law enforcement officer, at a young age.
Then a thought occurred to me. “Well, my mom’s a nurse. So she sometimes administers drugs to people.” Ellen looked thoughtful but not convinced. She looked at her co-pilots, who shook their heads. Then it dawned on me. Could they be talking about my biological mother?
“I’m adopted.” I offered. “Could you be referring to my biological mother?””
“Ahhh….I see,” said Ellen, looking as if a difficult equation had been solved. Her co-pilots both nodded. Ellen asked me to give the name of my adoptive mom. I gave her name and she shook her head no. “This is about your biological mother,” she said.
“I have very little information about my biological mom,” I said. “I just know she was 18 and unmarried and kept my twin sister and I for the first 5 months before giving us up for adoption.”
The furrow returned to Ellen’s brow. She asked me to give her a moment and then a whispered conference ensued among the three women. There was no clock in the room, yet a loud ticking started up in my mind. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. It was worse than waiting for the recess bell in grammar school. Finally, the huddle broke up and all three moved their chairs a little closer to me.
Ellen cleared her throat and said, “We’re not sure how to tell you this.” The woman to her right added, “yes, it’s rather an awkward circumstance.”
“It appears that your biological mom is no longer alive.” Ellen announced. The left co-pilot who had remained silent until this point, but was transmitting intense looks of sympathy, said, “Yes, it’s rather an odd way to find out. We weren’t sure whether to tell you.”
Ellen elaborated: “She was very sorry to have to give you and your sister up for adoption. But she was in no state to raise two babies.” The woman on the right chimed in: “She wanted you and your sister to know that she loved you and wanted you to have a better life than she could have offered.” Vigorous nods from the team.
I stared at them, dumbfounded. Was ANY of this true? I felt heavy in my chair. It wasn’t the information I’d come here seeking. For a few moments it was as if I was looking at them all from the inside of a fish bowl. Buffered noise. Moving lips. Indistinct sound.
“We only told you because all three of us were getting the same information.” Ellen said gently, as if talking to a small child. I couldn’t identify what I was feeling. Was it numbness? Sadness? How could it be? I didn’t know this “mother”. Perhaps it was more the feeling of a door being shut. A door you knew was always there, in case you wanted to open it. But now it felt as if that door had just been sealed forever.
Or had it? Was I really going to believe this?
It’s September 2019. Leonora looks at the tarot cards spread before her: “Your mom may not be alive. She hasn’t appeared in any of the card spreads, except once at the beginning. But a father figure has come up several times. I think your biological father can still be alive, although quite old.”
Two days ago I went back on the adoption registry website. I finally ticked the box: “Biological Father”.
Honestly, I’m not sure the extent to which my experience at the healing clinic influenced me. After some months, and the march of life, the memory faded. But I do think it may have quelled my desire to look for the key to that door. Perhaps an air of futility seeped in. Why expend lots of time and effort searching for a mother who was no longer alive?
Or maybe it felt safer to NOT know. While I’d never indulged in fantasies of what my biological mother might be like, the intuitive reading made me quite aware of what I didn’twant her to be: a drug addict. Someone down and out. Someone deeply unhappy. Someone whose life was scarred by having to give up twin daughters.
In my tarot reading with Leonora in September, I asked her if there was much point in searching for my origins if both parents were dead. “You don’t do things just for an expected outcome,” she responded. “A tree doesn’t grow just to produce fruit. It is part of a symbiotic relationship with the sun, the soil, the whole ecosystem. It sends its roots deep into the earth; Its roots are just as important as its fruit.”
This week I was asking myself why I haven’t leapt whole-heartedly into my search yet. What’s holding me back? And then it dawned on me. The box I needed to check, in response to “Who are you looking for?” was “Other”.
That “Other” is me. Opening that door isn’t about finding a mother or a father; it’s about opening the door to me. It’s about my desire to know who I am so that I can be a better contributor to my ecosystem.
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