Excerpts from She Named You Donna -a memoir -
There are seasons in life that stand apart, a course for change, securely etched in memory. Autumn of 1973 was my season. I was fifteen and had just begun sophomore year at an all-girls Catholic High School. 1973, the year that the military withdrew from Vietnam; Roe v. Wade went to the Supreme Court and Watergate was the lead story on the evening news. But the most important events in my world were shared with my friends, our world no bigger than our small city thirty miles north of Manhattan. We listened to Carole King and Elton John, hid our cigarettes in our knee socks and lived on Kit Kats and TAB. And though I thought life would be like this forever, not unlike the world around me, I would soon experience shame and scandal, long for choices and hope for closure.
Today is one of those summer days that’s neither warm nor cool, only heavy and humid, misting drops, suppressing my quick wit and confidence. I’m questioning my perfect mother outfit, as I peel the plaid skirt from my thighs. This is an audition for the role of a lifetime, and my thoughts are stifled by the weight of the air, as my perm gets tighter and tighter. We’ve been primed, rehearsed and I really want this part.
“You don’t have to use your names, but it’s up to you,” Estelle prepares us.
“Julie you can tell them that you are adopted and it would be a good idea to talk briefly about your Asian background, Peter. But don’t go into too much detail, keep it simple,” then adds, “I wouldn’t mention anything about your giving up a baby for adoption, Julie.”
The trip to the conference room is silent. Images swirl around me. All the perfect parents I’ve imagined. My baby’s adoptive mother, who I’ve pictured roundish with dark brown hair, a warm smile and gentle touch holding my baby, her husband beaming with pride. A sudden image of my own young parents. The parents I know loved me and desperately wanted to keep me. And now there are two young parents waiting at the end of the hallway. But this isn’t a fantasy, not in my head or dreams or desires. I understand that this is about being chosen and choosing and letting go and giving up and the pain returns. I wonder what we can say to them. How could it be enough? How can I be enough?