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As we behold, we actively transform the image.
David was a golden boy, who benefited from the incredible era that followed WWII and all the opportunities in the United States that were offered to men like my father. I was his first child. He offered me a wonderful upbringing. He took me on adventures like hiking in Medicine Bow Peak in Wyoming, a hike my birth parents had also done with their children. It seems my families had been walking on intersecting paths. But David had also made decisions that had caused great pain in our family circle. I spoke weekly with my grandfather Harland, to convince him of the importance of forgiveness.
When David died, I spoke at the funeral, offering my story about David, my father. When I looked out into the faces of those who had come to the funeral, I saw my birth parents, and my father Michael’s supportive smile as I honoured my father David. This moment appeared surreal.
Adopted children often fall “Far From The Tree”, the title of Andrew Solomon’s book. Parents like to see their reflections in their children’s faces. Adopted children cannot offer that possibility to the parents who raise them. I tried my best to be a Mossman, cultivating their ways, and passing on what I believed to be their values, a form of cultural inheritance. But I came to understand the importance of passing on the biological bloodline, and just how gratifying that can be when facing the reality of one’s mortality. This insight came to me as a young mother.
When my father passed on the golden pocket watch, a family heirloom, to my biological sister’s son, I became aware of my difference that I hadn’t perceived growing up. Though I had three boys, David’s choice to bequeath the pocket watch that had belonged to my grandfather, Harland, passed over my family line.
It took time and grace to heal what seemed to be a gesture that overlooked my family, accentuating the difference of being the adopted child. But I came to understand that the golden Cross pen that my father had given me, the pen that had survived a fire, was indeed a symbolic object that suggested my becomingness through authorship. I end this chapter writing, “And my inheritance is this amazing story.”
Here is a link to information about Solomon’s film:
Here is a link to an interview about Solomon’s book:
This chapter is at the core of my book. As I had gone through the reunion process, establishing life-long relationships with my birth family, expanding my relational matrix, my own family grew. Jessica was my 40th birthday present. She arrived when I was balancing my full-time job and raising our young children. The challenges of balancing work and family are central sociological questions that are eliciting transformational processes not just in individual families, but throughout the Western world.
Jessica, our 5th child’s name, means “God behold”. While expecting her, I fell to my knees under the pressures coming down upon me. But in that humble position, I found a grace that has accompanied me even more consciously ever since her arrival. Every Christmas season I am reminded of the words from the well-known Christmas song, “Fall on your knees and hear the Angels voices”. Receiving Jessica into our family forced us to reconfigure our relationships just as one carefully places the figurines in the nativity scene, making a special place for baby Jesus.
Author of Homing In: A Story Mandala Connecting Adoption, Reunion and Belonging