I want to tell you a story about a secret I carried for years. And about the woman who changed my life. Her name is Lorraine Dusky, and she has written a brilliant memoir, HOLE IN MY HEART, that should be read by everyone.
Here is my story. Years ago, after I graduated from the University of Hawaii, I came to New York City to become a writer. With me came a secret I had never told, not even to my family. After several years in New York I met Lorraine Dusky. We were both working at a public relations firm, while we struggled to become published authors. I was publicizing wigs, Lorraine was publicizing baby products.
We became good friends, and used to go for lunch and drinks to an old New York establishment called 'Bill's Gay Nineties.' One day at lunch, Lorraine said to me, "I have something to tell you. I had a child. I was not married. I gave her up for adoption. I don't know where she is." I remember how I sat back, and stared at her. Then I said, "Oh my god. So did I." We fell sobbing into each other's arms and bonded for life.
Years later Lorraine Dusky helped me find my child. I wasn't searching for her to break up her adoptive family. I simply wanted to know she was healthy and okay, and I wanted her to know her family history and medical history. I searched for years, but all adoption records were sealed. I hit blank walls repeatedly. By then Lorraine was searching for her own child, and she was also working to have sealed adoption records opened, so children could have crucial access to their medical records and to their natural mothers if they so desired.
My daughter was 21 when, with Lorraine's help, I finally found her. I discovered that she and her adoptive mother had begun to search for me, because she was deeply troubled by not knowing her background, who she was, where she came from. They had searched and searched, to no avail. Again - all adoption records were sealed. Until I found my daughter, she had no idea she had Native Hawaiian blood on my side, or Italian blood on her natural father's side. The couple who adopted her were German-American. She is brunette and looked nothing like them. She later told me that for twenty-one years, when she looked in the mirror what she saw was a blank.
Mine is a rather happy ending. I found my daughter, and became close to her adoptive mother. Not all mother-child reunions are happy, there is often anger and resentment on the part of the adoptee, as well as tremendous guilt on the part of the natural mother. I am still riddled with guilt for having given my child up for adoption, though I had no alternative. Giving a child away is an unnatural act. Even after they are found we grieve, for all the lost years that can never be reclaimed.
This is essentially the end of my story. I found the child I gave away. But, one thing more. After we grew close my daughter confided this to me. "Until you found me, there was this empty room inside my mind. It was huge, and filled with everything about me, my identity, my DNA, my ancestors, where all my relatives lived in this world. But I could not get into this room, because the door was locked." She said that she had been afraid she would spend her life without ever getting inside that room. She would die without knowing who she was. Thanks to Lorraine Dusky, my daughter was finally able to unlock the door.
Lorraine changed my life and my daughter's life, and her memoir HOLE IN MY HEART will change your life. It's the powerful story of a mother separated from her child by adoption and the state-imposed secrecy that kept them apart. Defying convention, Lorraine Dusky finally reunited with her daughter in the 1980s when such reunions were rare. The story continues where most adoption memoirs end, giving an inside look at what happens after reunion. Lorraine found redemption not only in advocating for ending secrecy in adoption, she also became a role model for other struggling lost mothers.
But this is not simply an adoption story of lost and found, its also about one woman's life as a prize-winning journalist, breaking out of 'women's departments' and breaking down the barriers for other women writers. Along the way the reader learns of her rich life as a wife, mother, grandmother and dedicated advocate for reform of American's antiquated adoption system. Lorraine's writing is passionate and eloquent. Her restraint in telling her tragic, timeless, and redemptive story is an extraordinary feat. HOLE IN MY HEART is an American classic and should be read by everyone.
I'm very proud to know Lorraine. Proud of the work she is doing to reform adoption records. At personal risk, and at great personal sacrifice, she has changed the lives of thousands. Here we are, she and I, at a recent reading of HOLE IN MY HEART at Canio's Bookstore in Sag Harbor, Long Island. I introduced Lorraine. The store was filled to capacity, to Standing Room Only. At the end of Lorraine's reading, the audience gave her a standing ovation. Bravo! To my brave and beloved friend.
Thank you all for reading HOLE IN MY HEART. Now Available at Amazon.