For those of us raised on the words of Tolstoy, "All happy families resemble each other; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," today's letters will ring true. Each letter today is similar in that it comes from a member of a family where adoption played a part - and each letter has a happy ending.
So if you're tired of strife and sorrow, disease and dilemma, sordid headlines and changing hemlines, here are some real letters from real people - people who may not have won the lottery but who feel they did well with the chance they had at life. We'll begin with a follow-up letter from "Maureen," who wrote a few weeks ago and said she was looking forward to meeting the adult daughter she'd given up at birth. The two had been having a trans-Atlantic telephonic reunion, and now the daughter she hadn't seen since birth was going to come to her mother's wedding, where they'd meet for the first time.Dear Lois: It was a beautiful day and a wonderful wedding. It's taken me a long while to grow into the me I knew I always wanted to be, but I am glad I did. Now I like me very much, and that means I can like and love others.
Deborah (my daughter) is a very grounded, self-assured young woman, and I am thankful to her parents for giving her a stable background. She doesn't seem to take after them at all in her thinking. Her sister, also adopted, is more like they are, but Deborah is very much like I am. It makes for an interesting discussion. How much is in the genes and how much do one's circumstances affect one's personality, especially since traits that Deborah and I share are ones that I didn't "adopt" until much later in my life. Were they hidden all this time in me? Food for thought!
Dear Maureen: In finding your answers, you seem to have raised a lot of new questions. And that's the mystery of life, isn't it? Where do questions end? Where do answers begin? Continued good wishes to you, to Deborah and to your new husband, Ken.
Dear Lois: My adoptive parents' willingness to be open and honest about my adoption helped me immensely. I am an intelligent person, and growing up I never questioned who my "real" parents are. And yet my decision to search for my birth parents was met by my parents with even more acceptance and attempts to understand. My mom understood more easily than Dad, but they both knew that my happiness meant completing myself. I was reunited with my birth mother a couple of years ago, and through that grew closer to my mom.
They share a bond through me as I do with each of them. No, my birth mother wasn't there when I was sick, but my "real" mom was. My birth mother is not my "mom," but she is a mother in a different sense.
- Sharon B.
Dear Sharon: Another letter from an adoptive daughter who found her birth mother made a point that seems applicable here, too. She said that mothers can love more than one child, so why can't a child love more than one mother?
Dear Lois: I am almost 51 and have known I was adopted since forever. In my mid-40s I did much research and found my birth mother. A long correspondence followed, and we met six months later. We'll skip the details, but the reunion really worked. I never told my adoptive parents that I found my mother; there was no need to disrupt their elderly lives and make them think they had failed somehow. But Mom knew about them, and she has seen pictures of my childhood, growing up, etc. It was wonderful to meet her and look at my own face and see how many things we do alike. I am grateful for the choice my mother made to give me up so I could have a better life, and I know I did have that. Being reunited has brought a new dimension to my life, along with four brothers and a sister which, to someone raised as an only child, was quite a shock. I just wanted to let you know that adoption is a wonderful choice and so very many people benefit.
- Lynn Clarke
(born Candice Jeanne Berry)
Dear Lynn: It sounds as if you're enriching your life with your new family, and you remind all of us that the possibilities for life are limitless so long as we keep our options - and our minds - open.