from Diane Gelon, London 2010

by adminuser on August 1, 2010

July 2010

To Annette:

You didn’t always have grey hair; you were however always short and always unbelievably dynamic.

You named it a triangle; such a simple shape; equilateral; egalitarian
But it was anything but simple
How can it be – I have a daughter who doesn’t call me mother because she already had a mother; but I have grandchildren who do call me grandma and they also call my daughter’s mother grandma. Confusing – not really; I am part of Annette Baran’s circle of influence.

Over forty years ago you said to me that my daughter would always be my daughter even though she had another mother. That the bond would never be broken. I did not believe you then. But you were insistent and whenever I would see you you would ask about “my daughter” – the daughter who was brought up by a mother that was not me.

And when I heard the words, “my daughter” I would cringe – but you told me to be proud and to own it and all would be ok. And you were right.

My daughter, Liz; her mother Sandy and me. What an odd threesome it would seem. Bound forever in this triangle you so aptly named. You never came up, however, with a word to describe my relationship to/with Sandy – I call her my “mother-in-law”. We now share meals together and kvell over our grandchildren. In no small part due to you.

You guided us from a distance through the process when a then 17 year old young woman and her adoptive mother and father met with your colleague Reuben Pannor at Vista del Mar to pursue finding Liz’s birthmother. It was 1986 when I first received a letter at my home in London enclosing a letter from my daughter’s parents. It was written anonymously – not signed; handwritten (thankfully before the computer age). Zap I was found….so to speak.

It was then that I read your first book, “The Adoption Triangle”, and everything else I could find written by you about reunions between and among those that made up this triangle.

It was ten months later when we all finally met; and I saw my face, my eyes, and my mouth on a woman 21 years younger walk into the room;
and we hesitantly hugged and stared at each other with amazement, awe and wonderment.

.I do not remember the grey hair when we first met in 1969. I was a kid; 20 years old. I choose not to have an abortion in those days before Roe v Wade and I made the right choice. I even made the right choice to, as we called it, “give my daughter away”.

You organised everything.
I didn’t have to think
I just had to show up after my daughter was born and sign some documents
How simple
I never held her in my arms after giving birth – it made it easier to give her away
I remember the drive up the winding path to Vista del Mar and sitting in your office. I was stoic; you were comforting. This is when you first said that she would always be my daughter – it seems so long ago now. You were right; as usual!

And then four years ago I came to you again – on a less winding road. In a penthouse overlooking the Pacific.
You were the only person I could think to call when a letter landed on my office desk in London addressed “personal” with a Florida return address from a name I did not recognise.
Her name was Joan and she claimed to be my sister – how could that be.
I had only a younger brother.
I wrote to you; then called you; and you agreed to help my brother and me tell our mother that her first born child was searching for her birth mother. It was as if I moved along your triangle to a new role; a new position in the ties that bind.

Two generations of women – how could this be that we both had children; both of us gave our daughter “away” to be raised by another

Suddenly our family expanded. Not two children; but three.
Imagine waking up one day when you are 57 years old and finding that you have an older sister – the eldest daughter of both your mother and father.
There were no clues left by my parents.
No one ever spoke of it; there was only silence for nearly 60 years.

You guided my brother and I through the process and provided us with a roadmap of how to break this news to my mother who at age 80 had recently had a stroke and was having trouble taking in new information.

You took the time out of your busy life in retirement (did you ever really retire) to work with us. You spoke to Joan independently from me and my brother and also took calls with the three of us together. You handled it with such grace and confidence. Your years of experience – telling us how to do it; telling Joan to write her mother/my mother/our mother; sending photographs; sharing her life/us sharing our life.

You gave us the tools with which to tell our mother that we loved her and that it was ok that we knew she had another child. You even met with my mother.

Another reunion; but this time it was my mother’s eyes and my mother’s mouth that walked into the room and into our life; but more important walked into my mother’s life; that same staring; that same disbelief; that same joy I had experienced twenty years before

Your white hair; that sparkle in your eyes. I am forever grateful for your wisdom and support.

And I became part of the Annette Baran family. We shared our love of London; of the theatre; of travel; of books; and politics.

You have been an inspiration and I treasure the day I first met you.
You have encouraged me to write
And each time I saw you over the last few years you kept asking if I have done so

No – but I will….
I promise.
There are stories to tell

[Diane Gelon, London, July 2010]

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