The Adopted Life

Strengthening the adoption community by empowering adoptee voices

Communal Catharsis Aboard the Carnival Cruise

we should not forget why the flowers
decided not to drink the rain
and chose to grow old instead

we should not forget why a small star
quit the glittering night
and died in silence and solitude
— Choman Hardi

For 50+ years, society has succeeded in communicating that my birthmom's trauma journey was not to be spoken of. Virtually no support, counseling or affirmation for her need to place me for adoption aided in her decision to keep my birth a secret. Psychological literature asserts that when traumatic memories are invalidated, one can feel their reality to be different, less meaningful, worthless even. Elie Wiesel's novel, Night, is a great example of the perils in believing ones story unspeakable. After years of living in literal darkness - blinds closed, overhead lights turned off, minimal contact with others & insomnia - I am greatly pleased to know that my birthmom has finally met full acceptance via the Soul Cruise. Her once numbed senses are activated again as she shares a week in the presence of 10 other birthmoms aboard a Carnival Cruise to Mexico. In the few short years since meeting my birth mom I've come to understand that decisions made by the oppressed are typically not made out of fear, but rather necessity. 

                                                                         Deborah and Soul Cruise Founder; Ashley Mitchell

                                                                         Deborah and Soul Cruise Founder; Ashley Mitchell

Ashley Mitchell, the brain-child behind the magic that is the Soul Cruise has worked tirelessly to secure donations for the birthmoms; Old Navy donated flip flops, the Little Cookie Shop donated sweet treats, party supplies were delivered from Knot & Bow, they'll even get to commune around this fun faux campfire. Ashley will lead the women in daily workshops, offering opportunities for these women to bear witness to each others' pain while disallowing the sun, sand and surf to make a mockery of their efforts. These gifts reinforce the truth that happiness and forgiveness (of the self) is possible when supported by a community such as this. 

Ashley and I have emailed back and forth the past few days to make sure all logistics were in place. After a few snafus and unexpected airline woes, Deborah arrived in Los Angeles allowing both of us to exhale a big sigh of relief. While communicating about next steps Ashley peppered in heart-felt text messages like, "I can't wait to meet Deborah and give her a big hug!" and "The other gals are really looking forward to meeting her." I soon began receiving photos of Deborah with the other gals, including her bunk mate, Sonya. The adage, BE STILL MY HEART has been my repeating mantra as I sit in my home hundreds of miles away watching this human display of reconciliation play out. 

Reflecting upon the changes I've seen in Deborah since her secret has come out (and broadcast on Netflix), I recount some of the blessings - her first taste of flavored lattes (she enjoyed the caramel macchiato), first airplane rides (she wondered why airplane travel didn't feel like a rocket blasting through the air), first time stepping foot in another country (she straddled the line of the Canada/US border), and simply the ability to be in daily communication with her daughter. I am pleased to have played a small part in her newfound loves; traveling, exploring the genealogy of her family and gardening. It is with confidence that I can assume this week will be one that she'll wish would never end. This assumption alone is a dream come true, especially when juxtaposed with her days of yore when each painstaking minute was a minute too many. 

I'll be thinking of her often this week (i.e. anxiously awaiting text message and Facebook updates) and am resting assured that her burdens are dissipating at a rate much faster than ever before.  

                My birthmom (far left) pictured with other birthmoms on the cruise ship. What a gorgeous group of strangers, brought together by decisions they made for their children.

                My birthmom (far left) pictured with other birthmoms on the cruise ship. What a gorgeous group of strangers, brought together by decisions they made for their children.