Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Conference Tidbit

It's been a whole week since I returned from the adoption conference in Provincetown, and my life has been too busy to blog about it yet. But here's a little taste:

On Sunday, July 12, I got to meet the fabled adoption writer, Betty Jean Lifton (of Twice Born, Journey of the Adopted Self, and Lost And Found fame). She gave a great keynote address, and afterward, a friend of mine introduced me to her. I asked her about living in reunion--when it feels like you've finally arrived because you've found the sought-after person (in this case, my birth mother), but even though you've finally "arrived," you don't know where you are. (That's how it feels for me. I'm so happy to know Carol and to have her in my life, but I have a hard time connecting with her.)

When I asked Betty Jean Lifton what I should do about this, she asked me, "What do you want from your birth mother?"

I had to think quickly--I realized I don't really know what I want from my birthmom. I said "I want to know what happened!"

"Aaah!" Said BJL, "That's what all adoptees want--to go back in time to the 'then-and-there,' to the point of connection, to the point of conception, to the Navel of the World! But the birth mother doesn't want to go there, she wants to move on. She doesn't want to stay in that place; she wants to run away from it like it's a house on fire. She wants to be with you in the 'here-and-now.'"

Yes, I suppose that does create a conflict. And a bit of an impasse.

Thinking about it more, I realized that what I want from my birth mother is to know everything. To know her. And it seems so impossible.

On another note, BJL's reference to the "Navel of the World" stunned me. I have long had an obsession with the mythic idea of the navel of the world--I've written about it, researched how this notion is expressed in various cultures around the world, and, most importantly, have identified it as an important centerpiece in my understanding of myself as an adopted person.

I would love to post a few pieces of my writing here that refer to the navel of the world to show you what I mean, but alas, I am away from home and thus away from all my computer files. I'll post them later, when I return home.

Which brings me to my final point: I'm going on vacation--the kind where there are no computers (hard to believe such places exist anymore), so I'll be on hiatus from posting until August 1.

Catch you then!


JBH said...

I know you'll see this when you return from vacation:-), but how great that you were able to meet Betty Jean Lifton! What a great post: as someone who is still in "search and reconnect" mode, it's nice to hear your wisdom about living in reunion. Thanks for sharing!

Nicole Breitman said...

I feel deeply connected to B.J.'s comment. Of course, I want to know what happened in my own circumstance, too, and it seems my persistence in questioning has only pushed my birth mother away on a certain level. She responded to one of my last emails full of questions by saying that we cannot live in the past, she wants to move forward together with me. That seems so difficult; I think I am moving from a strong belief that I need to understand the beginning in the first place in order to move forward. Maybe this is not the only way. Maybe we need to live into the present with the future guiding us, and in doing so the past will naturally unfold.

Andrea said...

Hello, JBH and Nicole:
thanks for your comments.
JBH: yes, it was really exciting to meet Betty Jean Lifton!!
could you comment on what it means to you to live in the present with the future guiding us?
I'd love to know more about what that means to you.