Was it Synchronicity?

Young Love ~ An Adoptee’s Memoir Chapter 7–from My First Memoir, April 6, 1988

“My birthday was the next day and I was feeling desperate to connect with my birth family. I finally decided to call the Verdun number and ask if I could talk to one of Joan’s sisters. I felt more comfortable with the idea of talking to another woman, and I knew Grandma Williamson wasn’t ready or she would have called Phyllis at the adoption agency.

“I can’t remember a time when I’ve been more nervous. I had a pad ready for note-taking. At the top, I wrote “Don’t Hang Up…” a favorite song by the Orlons in the 1950s. I just prayed they wouldn’t hang up on me.

“I spoke briefly to Grandma Williamson and then Joan’s brother, John, realized that he should get on the phone. I didn’t know they had two phones. Before I knew it, John said, “Hang up the phone,” in a firm voice. My life passed before my eyes and I almost hung up in despair. Then he started talking to me, and I realized that he had the extension and had been speaking to Grandma. As it turned out, John couldn’t have been kinder to me!

“I was still nervous beyond reason, but he was calm and caring. We talked for about twenty-five minutes. I learned a lot about Joan, and John said I could write to him and send pictures of us. That phone call was my first direct contact with my original family since infancy. I had actually talked to someone who knew Joan!

“I know this is silly, but didn’t Joan work for the phone company? That call never appeared on my bill! Oh, how I wanted to see that phone call on my bill. It would be the written proof that I had talked to Joan’s family. I was dying to see it and pay it! I even called the phone company. They had no record of the call. John told me that Joan worked for Northern Electric for thirty-four years. She was a hard worker, well respected, and active in the Northern Electric service organization, the Pioneers Club.”

When something occurs that seems to be more than a coincidence, it can take our breath away. It’s highly personal, but without apparent cause. It is baffling and mystifying. Carl Jung studied this phenomenon and created a term for these meaningful coincidences: synchronicity. I have become more aware of synchronicity during my years searching for my birthparents and families.

It is not surprising that synchronicity is a common topic in adoption stories. My search angels, as well as the Ville Marie adoption caseworkers, have reported to me that they see highly meaningful coincidences frequently in searches and reunions. In July of 1983, I felt stressed and anxious. I felt an urgency to know more about my birthmother. In Toronto, we discovered that she died on July 21, 1983.

Synchronistic and paranormal events share one critical ingredient, and that is love. Even though it is difficult to prove with scientific study, love is what makes a meaningful coincidence meaningful. Is it possible that Joan’s love was with me on that day when I spoke with her brother? I believe it was.

In Carl Jung’s acausal connection, love is the intangible cause. When we lose a loved one, the love is not lost. We continue to love and adore, and we can feel love in return. My mom and Joan both died from breast cancer. This card represents all the love that will be with us forever.

Visit: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyAdopteeMemoir for autographed and inscribed books, handmade bookmarks, and FREE domestic shipping! Also available in the FriesenPress Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble online.

Progress in New York State

On January 15th, just three weeks ago, adult adoptees in New York State were finally, after 83 years, allowed to request a copy of their Original Birth Certificate. Thousands have applied and Facebook groups, both public and private, provide 24/7 support and information to help folks with the application process.

In my memoir, Chapter 9 – Original Birth Certificate, I describe my efforts to get a copy of my OBC. I had no idea what I was doing! In the fall of 1988, after our first trip to Montreal, I decided to try and get my original birth certificate (OBC). My notes indicate that I first called the Montreal Court House. A nasty voice told me my OBC was top secret, that I had a new identity, and referred me back to Ville Marie Social Services. I don’t recall exactly how she knew I was adopted. But I had learned my lesson and tried a craftier strategy with my next attempt.

I kept looking for things that brought my birthmother closer to me. I knew who she was, but I wanted to have proof that she had been pregnant with me and had given birth to me–I craved all tangible connections. My OBC was just that–a single sheet of paper with the name she gave me, my date of birth, and her signature! It was a legal, embossed document that belonged to me! I am thinking a lot these days about my fellow New Yorkers. Whatever the results may be, they now have the right to request a copy of their Original Birth Certificate.

I enjoy making the bookmarks that come with my memoir. It brings back memories of designing and crafting greeting cards when I had my first Etsy shop, Custom Cards By Bonnie. My new Etsy shop, My Adoptee Memoir, has four brand new greeting cards with one of my favorite themes from the book, “there is no one like YOU.” I call them my “identity cards.” The first one has the breast cancer awareness pink ribbon and butterflies. It honors my mom and my birthmother who both died from breast cancer. The next two cards have flower bouquets–one is for Valentine’s Day, the other is a bouquet of Lily of the Valley, my mom’s favorite flower! Each image is hand-stamped and colored with fine-tip markers. The last card has ginkgo leaves from my favorite tree. The leaves are hand-stamped in green. Each listing includes a story under “Item Details.”

My goal is to send a message of support to people touched by adoption and searching for their original identity and family heritage. I also hope to raise awareness in our communities about adoption issues.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyAdopteeMemoir

Happy Valentine’s Day

What is ETSY?

Etsy is an online marketplace–an e-commerce shopping mall filled with shops that sell handcrafted, digital or custom made, unique, often vintage, items. I opened my original Etsy shop in 2010, “Custom Cards by Bonnie.” I made a variety of greeting cards that I shipped all over the world. I believe that receiving a card in the mail, especially a handmade card, is a timeless gift. The theme of my shop was, “Send a little love.”

Now I have an Etsy shop dedicated to my book, Young Love—An Adoptee’s Memoir. I self-published my memoir with FriesenPress in British Columbia, Canada. I decided to make a matching bookmark—I still love to create with paper and ribbon!

My Etsy shop is in my home. I autograph each book and include a personal message if you wish. I wrap each book as a gift.  The bookmark and my new theme, “there is no one like YOU” are placed on top of the book. Domestic shipping is free!

Selling on Etsy allows personalization for you and for me!

Have fun checking out Etsy. You can go directly to my new memoir shop from here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyAdopteeMemoir?ref=search_shop_redirect

Happy New Year!

I am thrilled to tell you that Young Love – An Adoptee’s Memoir is now in print!

In the beginning, I wanted to record and share my search for my birth parents—a search that began in May 1983 and finally ended in March 2018. However, eventually, I realized that my story did not begin in 1983. In fact, it began in the late 1940s, well before my birth, with two young people—caught in young love.

My story continues with my parents and their decision to adopt an infant. I believe that the circumstances of my birth and the details of my childhood bring life to the story that, in the end, reveals my identity and heritage.

Young Love – An Adoptee’s Memoir is available in these places:

Etsy–I opened an Etsy shop to offer personalized sale of both the paperback and hardcover formats. I will autograph each book and add a personal statement if you have one in mind. I will include a handmade bookmark that matches the book!

Free shipping on all domestic orders. Here’s the link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyAdopteeMemoir?ref=search_shop_redirect

FriesenPress— My Canadian Publishing Company. No autograph or bookmark.

Paperback, hardcover, and digital formats. Here’s the link:  https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000102459125

Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Thank you for your support and encouragement this past year. My first blog post was on January 19, 2019! Our lives are so complex and filled with countless experiences. Whether or not you live with adoption, I hope some small part of my story resonates with you.   

A Pause

It’s time for a short blog break–a pause in the action. My memoir will be published sometime in September–you’ll be the first to know! Thanks, everyone, for reading and keeping up with my adoption search and childhood memories. For me, each week was more fun than the last. I have truly enjoyed sharing my stories with you and always love reading your comments.

Young Love: An Adoptee’s Memoir tells the story of my 35 year search for my original identity. It is in the final stage before publishing and I am very excited. I am forever grateful to you, my readers, and can’t wait to share the book with you.

handmade greeting card

I Love to Write!

As I pondered topics for my blog this week, I realized that I’ve been writing for years. Yes, I am amazed that I never gave it much thought before. For example, when our school staff took a field trip to a local nursing home for our school-business partnership, I wrote about our magical school bus ride and the possibility we would never return. Ha! Or, when Paul and I took care of Ron and Kim’s goldendoodle for a week and I wrote a story for our grandchildren, Max’s Riverhead Vacation with lots of cute photos.

Another example is dear to my heart. Twelve years ago, I was just home from the hospital and I was learning about the need to rest after surgery. Paul went off to work and I found myself feeling a little upset remembering waking up in recovery… But I pieced together the details and decided to write about it to combat the bad memory. For some reason I do not recall, I submitted my story to the Buffalo News for a My View article. It was published May 2, 2007.

Nurse’s Kindness Was the Best Medicine of All

“I heard that,” I said softly. My recovery room nurse had sighed, not a big sigh and probably not meant to be heard. I’d regained consciousness fighting the pain in my back. It had nothing to do with the surgery, but I clearly remember my last thought before going under: “My back is going to kill me when this is over.”

I squirmed and struggled to get on my side to ease the pain in my back, causing the blood pressure cuff to become loose and who knows what other damage.

The IV brought pain relief and I began to calm down. As the team moved away, my nurse put final touches on all she could do to make me comfortable and began recording everything that had happened. Without looking up, she replied, “It’s my birthday.”

March 29—I’d known for months that on this day, I would have laparoscopic abdominal surgery at Buffalo General Hospital. At least, I prayed it would be laparoscopic. “Three Band-Aids, I want to wake up with 3 Band-Aids. I don’t care if the 6-inch abdominal incision is called a smile. I still want 3 Band-Aids.”

My need for reassurance and TLC began in the weeks way before March 29. Anticipating surgery is no fun. Thankfully, my son and his wife chose medical careers, and they provided me with information and assurances that everything would be OK.  Paul and Emily would be allowed in the recovery room when I was ready for visitors.

My daughter-in-law had worked with my surgeon at Buffalo Medical School and they remembered each other. I would soon find out the immeasurable value of the connections we make when things are the most precarious in life.

I welcomed the news that it was my nurse’s birthday. March 29 now had a new meaning. She was in a reflective mood, pensive, no big plans. It had been a long day without a birthday reprieve. “But if they’d shortened your day, we wouldn’t have met,” I stated immediately. She smiled, and we continued to chat about life.

In my vulnerable state, our connection assured me I wasn’t just a name on her list. Her sweetness and kindness made me stronger in an otherwise foreign and frightening situation. It was her knowledge, skill and experience that initially calmed me down. Now it was her kindness that lifted me up.

Throughout my short stay at Buffalo General—another benefit of laparoscopic surgery—the extra caring ways of the staff made me appreciate their choice to work in a hospital, to help us during our most challenging times. I wonder if they know the importance of their every act of kindness, or are kind acts intuitive on the part of hospital people?

One of the nurses was having a tough time removing my IV syringe and all the clear sticky tape. “I’m really sorry if I’m hurting you,” she said repeatedly.

I got a kick out of the doctors’ measure of success. Everything is relative. For me, I never felt worse, but for them, the surgery was successful, and everyone agreed I was doing so well. In retrospect, I’m grateful. Their optimism pointed me forward. I would get better. They knew my prognosis better than I did, and gave me hope.

My recovery room nurse decided that she would take me to my room. Always the caregiver, she reminded me at every turn to keep my arms in. When we finally reached my room, she wished me well and gave me a hug. I thanked her for everything. Happy Birthday! March 29 was our day.

My biggest writing project ever, Young Love, An Adoptee’s Memoir is in its final editing round. I hope to have news for you soon about a publishing date.

Thanks for reading!

If Everything is Fine, Why Search?

Every day I read accounts of searches and reunions in Facebook closed groups: DNA Detectives and DD Social. I am particularly drawn to stories that are similar to my own. For example, many adoptees accept their adoption—their parents provided them with love and stability. They have careers and harbor no regrets about being adopted. However, they may also have a curiosity about their original identity that won’t leave them alone!

My parents were my mom and dad. They were the ones who took care of me through high fevers and two bouts of the mumps, happy times and sad times. Mom and I chatted every day–I always knew she was there for me. My search for my birthparents didn’t even begin until well after I had moved out of my parents’ home, gotten married, and had children. As I have often said, I am not searching for another family.

Well then, if everything is fine, why search? During my search, I was determined to find my birth parents and learn about my heritage. AncestryDNA provided me with an “ethnicity estimate.” By searching, I learned the details behind their estimate.

Names and the words we use to identify people can be confusing, especially for folks who are not familiar with adoption. In this blog and in my memoir, I reserve mom and dad for the parents who raised me. Birthmother or mother, birthfather or father refer to my biological parents. Furthermore, in the first draft of the memoir, I capitalized my Mom and my Dad until the editor said, “When mom and dad follow ‘my,’ they should not be capitalized.” I felt Mom and Dad deserved to be capitalized all the time! But eventually, I decided to obey the rule.

Mom and Dad were my parents. My birthparents and I, had we met, would have been complete strangers. I like to think we would have gotten along well and developed close relationships. After all, without them, I would not exist. Therefore, they mean a lot to me. However, we still would have had to get acquainted with one another. It might have felt like we were related, but not as parent and child–I believe that in time, I would have called them by their first names. Unfortunately, closed adoption laws kept us apart for so long that those opportunities slipped away.

I found a photo of my mom and dad that I want to share with you. It was taken at our wedding reception in January 1970. I love their smiles!

Mom and Dad