Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Mistress's Daughter

I love summer for so many reasons, but one thing I love is my ability to read more than usual.  I don't have any grand reading plan but I am continually drawn towards adoption stories.  Yesterday was no exception.  Writer A.M. Homes was adopted an an infant and at the age of 31 was contacted by her birth mother.  The Mistress's Daughter
chronicles the relationship or lack of relationship she has with her birth parents.

This memoir pulled me in and I easily finished the book in an evening.  However, it left me with many unanswered questions and many uneasy feelings.  In a way,  I think that may have been her goal.  Her entire life was full of unanswered questions.  Even when her biological parents became known to her, those unanswered questions just became multiplied, not satisfied.  It is with pain and unease that she realizes her biological mother has never been able to overcome the relinquishment of her baby girl nor the betrayal of the much older man that she was involved with for 7 years.  Her mother stalks her and demands more of her than she is able to give.  Her mother is not a stable person.  Could this be her destiny?

Her biological father strings her along for 2 years, much like he strung her mother along, meeting her in out of the way places and never including her in family events.  Then he discards her and eventually refuses an innocuous request of hers.  

Homes is a fiction writer by trade and that is one aspect of this book that I didn't care for.  She spends a lot of time using her imagination to create detailed fantasies.  Again, maybe that was intentional to show how much of her life was fantasy.  She just didn't know.  So she created.  Her entire life she compared her adoptive families to other families and they just never measured up.  In a way, that's typical of many people.  The old saying, "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence," calls out to many of us at different points in our life.  However, I think the pain an adoptee feels at not knowing "who he is" must be deep and fierce.  

Homes closes with, "Did I choose to be found?  No.  Do I regret it?  No.  I couldn't not know."  

And that is probably the strongest message I'll take from this book.  My adoptive kids need to know "who they are".  I hope to show them their strong identity in Christ.  Being a child of the King is powerful.  But I cannot discount their biological identity.  I will do all I can to help them remember and stay connected to their biological family.  They deserve to know.

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