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Ned's Story

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She said her name was "Toby," but she also spoke the name her biological mother had given her, and immediately I knew who she was: "Are you tall or short - wide or thin? What color are your eyes - your hair? " and she began to suspect our connection; still, deep silence followed when I said, "I am your father."

Toby′s adopting father had died when she was twelve and she had never felt "comfortable " with her adopting mother. But we were comfortable with each other immediately, and I felt a blaze of recognition when she volunteered that her house was octagonal. I lit up further on learning that she had found her way into activities characteristic of distinctive members of my family. She had a degree in math, had been a classical languages major at Berkeley for three years, worked at the University of Tennessee as business manager in the Institute for Literacy Studies, ran a small art theater, broadcast a weekly program on folk music, and led a dance band of violin, piano and concertina, an instrument which she had largely taught herself. She said she was unlucky in love, but I saw her later, beautifully looking half her age.

At Sunday Service I told our story and heard the congregation applaud as I placed a candle in sand. I learned that there are among us as many adoptees and wondering parents as there are adopters -who tell more readily, and I discovered that a coffee shop acquaintance, Bill Morrison of this website, was an adoptee, and held monthly meetings in Santa Fe for adults connected in any way to adoption.

Toby′s visit here was distinguished by talks until two AM. and a dinner party presented by friend Barbara just before best seats at Santa Fe Opera. With similar interest and courage Toby visited her mother in Washington State and met two sisters and a brother. I visited Toby in her Octagon north of Knoxville; on her bookshelves were dictionaries of Middle English, Latin and Greek. She introduced me to her co-workers, to the theater board, to her band, to her closest friends. Each time she said, "This is my father," and years of separation closed.

From a marriage I have two children who shun me. The hardness of that began to loosen when I heard Toby say, "This is my father." I have a family again, started before and after an unfortunate marriage; I have a son and two daughters who love me and who want to stay in touch. Surprised at any age, children and parents can offer each other glad recognition of the deepest possible natural connection. 


11 /12/05



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