July 17- August 28,1999

Once upon a time, there was an adoptee who grew up knowing that in her culture, her society, her world, birth mothers were told to “forget about this child and get on with your life.”

When the adoptee was 6 she was in the first grade. Her health was very poor and she frequently missed days, even weeks of school. Each “first day back” was a private horror to her. She constantly feared that her classmates would have forgotten her. What if she went into the classroom and her teacher didn’t recognize her? What if she sat at her desk and no one spoke to her? Worse yet, what if somebody said, “Hi, are you new here?”

When she was 16, she got her drivers license. It had her picture on it, and her name! Although the picture was unflattering and the name was her adopted mother’s second husband’s, she kept the license with her at all times. After all, what if she was out in the yard and a bunch of friends came by and wanted her to go for a ride with them and she did and they got in a wreck in another town and she died and no one knew who she was?

When she was 26, she was walking through the grocery store one day when she spotted an acquaintance from her bridge club, and turned around and went the other way rather than meet the person. After all, what if she smiled and said, “Hi!” and the person gave her that blank stare one gives inappropriately friendly strangers? On the other hand, what if she ignored the person and later, at bridge club, the person teased her about being “stuck up”?

At 36, she found herself happily humming a popular melody. However, when she heard herself singing the words to the song, she cried. She’d been singing “I’m forgettable, da da di dah I’m forgettable...”

HINT: The song’s title was “Unforgettable” by Nat and Natalie Cole. The fact that the adoptee sang it as “I’m Forgettable” opened her eyes to the fear she’d carried all her life. In a “happily ever after” world, the adoptee would be found by her birth mother and would hear from her the precious words, “I never forgot you!” But, in the real world the adoptee had to learn to face her fears and walk down the grocery aisles, smile at acquaintances, risk their forgetfulness, and be strengthened by their remembering.

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