21 July 2008

Small Truths & Bright Shining Ones

Yesterday I was conducting an intake with a new client; part of those sessions involve a brief review of their medical history.

"Is there any significant medical history within your family that should be noted"? I asked, poised, ready to note his response, already looking ahead to the next question.

"I'm not sure. I didn't know my parents. I was adopted, so I really have no idea of anything that runs in the families of them. I'm assuming diabetes, since they say the form that I have is most likely genetic".

I wasn't ready for that. I wasn't ready for the feeling in my stomach that accompanied his words, and while I always carry a picture of the Queens with me in my mind when I'm working, I wasn't ready for the picture of Little A that surfaced in that moment.

"Breathe. Then write. Then go onto the next question", said the person in me that pushes away the girl inside and reminds her that, actually, she is a woman, and she must act as such.

I finished his meeting and dictated my notes and then drove to a visitation for the father of one of my friends that had passed away unexpectedly. They had made a video of him, showing him throughout the years with his family, in the light that you'd expect a father to be cast.

And for the first time, I didn't think, "Little A won't have that". Because actually, she will. She will know love and joy and what a family means. There will be pictures of her with her family at zoos and campgrounds and baseball games. She will know grandparents and siblings, just not necessarily her biological ones.

Recently there has been an ad on the television for the Daniel Day Lewis movie in which someone off camera yells, "Say it again", and Daniel's character yells, sobbing, "I deserted my child." Then quieter, "I deserted my child". I wonder who it is, forcing him to admit these things. I haven't seen the movie, but I think perhaps it is the child whom he deserted, somehow making him admit what he's done.

In the script that I wrote wrote in my mind based upon that commercial, the child lived a life of marked sadness and trial, due to the father's desertion. That will not be Little A.

Her life is full of love. I learned from my grandparents what parents are; she has that in her life. She also has "aunts" that dote on her and that would lay down their lives for her; that bring back Disney World to her when she cannot go there, that literally clothe her in the hand-me-downs from their twin girls. She has "grandparents" whose faces are awash with light when she enters the room.

She knows love. She knows family.

She will also, someday, need to know a medical history.

I have, at my disposal, medical history forms.

I have, in my life, a friend who knows where Little A's paternal grandfather works, and who has no qualms about walking in there with the forms.

I have, in my bathtub, a little girl awash in bubbles that one day will become a woman, who I hope will have children of her own, who will one day be asked for the medical history within her family.

I have, within my hopes, that she will pull out two forms, a bit torn on the edges, and hand them over and say, "I know the medical history of my family; I also have the history of my biological father". I have hope that that is all it will be; a fact of her life; a small, sad truth that the man that contributed to her making was not a man at all, but that in the end, it didn't matter in the least, for in addition to that sad truth, she also had bright, shining ones.


Anonymous said...

I read your email before I read your blog - I decided I don't care about ambushing grandfather - they don't seem to care about your feelings. Little A deserves this, and I am OH SO HAPPY TO HELP!!!!! I can't be in her life every day, but I can do this for her. Don't mess with the Queens and their posse! Love you Jenn!

Amy said...

I don't think you should. It's not like she was part of a closed adoption and won't be able to find him in the future if it becomes necessary. From what I've read of the situation here, you'll all be better off if you just leave the situation alone. No contact.

If she had some mysterious ailment right now, and knowing her medical history would help sort it out right now, that would be one thing... But since she's healthy and fine I think you should leave well enough alone.

painted maypole said...

this was just beautiful. and paternity does not family make, it's so true.

jen said...

oh babe. your heart. you.

i read every single word too.

flutter said...

gah. Oof.

MP said...

I have to tell you...I love your posts about family and the girls but as an adopted child I have to tell you I still have questions and have a piece missing..I want to know. I don't have a medical history..it was 1966..I know how they tanned in the sun and what jobs their parents had. I grew up being daddy's girl and playing the piano...lots of friends lots of love and family. I'm 41 and for me though there is still a piece missing. Every adopted child is different that's for sure but that is my experience. My "biologicals" could be white trash criminals..or super great people..I wanna know..

Loralee Choate said...

Absolutely. I can't for the life of me remember if his family knows about her or not, but they should. Without a doubt.

She should know everything she can...especially the medical information.

I have two sons and I dearly love them. I would be devestated if one of them deserted their child but I would want to do everything, everything in my power as a paternal grandparent to make it up to them and love them.

Again, I cannot remember if they know or not. It would be beyond sad if his parents were jerks as well.

Her Grace said...

I always thought then when your own wounds closed you would be able to see that Little A is not a child who is needing of pity for what she doesn't have, but who in fact is showered in love in so many ways.

I'm so glad to see it.

Kimberly said...

If you can find out, I say find out.

Then again, many of us don't know our complete family history. Both my husband and I have no idea what lurks on our father's sides - besides alcoholism and, at least in my case, cowardice.

Jennifer said...

Yes, yes, is what I say. Mail 'em.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

Sure, mail the forms. The worst case is that you get nothing and then you are no farther behind, you know. My mother's parents were Christian Scientists so they never went to the doctor and did not have any medical records. We will never know what they died of and it is odd to not have an answer to those questions about medical history, but also, so much less important than the things you detailed here: Having a family that loves and cares about you.

Amanda said...

We each have what we have and then we have what is added for us. You keep filling her cup up. Send the forms adn keep on showing her what it is to seize life and accept love.

Maggie said...


As you know, my son has some pretty major holes in his past. I have some medical information on his birthmom but I have little to nothing on his birthdad (except for the photo I found on mugshots dot com). He has questions and they are sometimes hard to answer. But the answers are his reality and he can handle them. We discuss everything in an age-appropriate manner, but with honesty. No matter how hard the truth is, he's always reassured to know the truth.

He spent 10 years of his life in inconsistency, violence, drugs, alcohol, abuse, multiple moves, multiple abandonments, and has seen things and had things happen to him that would make adults piss themselves. But he can handle his truths.

Little A will have a lifetime of security and love and happiness. If Slugger can handle his truths with such a shaky foundation, just think how bravely and admirably Little A is going to handle hers when she's standing on her rock solid foundation.

InTheFastLane said...

We've got one of those. And at 13, it has just recently become a topic of conversation. Sometimes, our kids are better of with the life they have than the life that never really was.

justabeachkat said...

Wow! This beautifully written post gave me chills. Little A is one lucky girl!


Omaha Mama said...

I say yes. But have no experience with such things.

I say yes, mail the forms. Then Little A has that info. She will never have to say, "I don't know." It will hold no power, it will only be the objective information on a form. Not a metaphor for something bigger.

Be brave. Mail the forms.

Orangeblossoms said...

I found my birthparents when I was 18. It created huge peace of mind to know I had the medical information I needed. Also, they were pretty cool. Hard to say how those things will go. Do what you can to get the information you can. Little A will need it. You will feel better. As always this writing is exquisite.

Rebecca & Patrick said...

Oooh, the nasty in me says FOR SURE get those forms to him! But not as they are, rather a doctored version where the title of the form is called something like "Medical History Form For Deserted Children"!

BetteJo said...

It's the least his family can do. Little A deserves that much - wish they were willing to give more.

Lawyer Mama said...

Ah yes, mail the forms.

Little A has so many wonderful people in her life. She is blessed.

Bon said...

i think the love matters a great deal, Jenn. and the desertion, too, to some of us, at certain points in our lives. but when the love is solid, we work our way through the rest.

Anonymous said...

Mail the forms.

Christine said...

oh, jenn. she has YOU which is the greatest gift of love she will ever have.

Running on empty