No knowledge of identity

The year before I was born – glad they came up with this in time for my life:

“genealogical bewilderment

was coined in 1964 by psychologist H. J. Sants, a colleague of Wellisch, referring to the plight of children who have uncertain, little, or no knowledge of one or both of their natural parents.
Normal psychological development requires knowledge of identity;

Normal psychological development requires knowledge of heredity.[3]

Each of these arguments is supported by E. Wellisch in his 1952 letter to the Journal of Mental Health:
“Knowledge of and definite relationship to his genealogy is … necessary for a child to build up his complete body image and world picture. It is an inalienable and entitled right of every person. There is an urge, a call, in everybody to follow and fulfill the tradition of his family, race, nation, and the religious community into which he was born. The loss of this tradition is a deprivation which may result in the stunting of emotional development.”[2]

These arguments are further supported by adoptee’s experience of abandonment, separation, and loss. They are no longer attached to their birth families, and so have lost a connection to their biological heritage. This loss is not considered as critical in infant adoptees, but is seen much more prominently in older adoptees. However, according to the “primal wound theory”, separation from the mother results in a lack of mother-child bond and separation trauma.[4]

These children often have the most trouble with family integration. If placed in the third type of family structure, these issues will often take care of themselves without outside intervention. If placed in either of the other two systems, integration is much more difficult; sometimes resulting in the adoption being disrupted or ended entirely.

 Adoptees with a need to search for their biological parents are often stigmatized as suffering from emotional deprivation as a result of poor relationships with their adoptive families. However, adoption reunion searches may stem from a variety of needs unrelated to the mental and emotional health and development of the adoptee. Among these may be the desire to reassert international citizenship rights as asserted and protected in the United Nations Charter on Human Rights; long-term health planning with respect to the advisability and utility of obtaining long-term biological family health histories; curiosity; and a sense of the personal and inalienable right to one’s own identity, which begins with life.

Some adoptees are concerned with a feeling of isolation and alienation from past generations; their adoption disrupts the continuity of generations that natural families have. This wall between the past and the present can create the perception that there is a wall between the present and the future as well. The feeling of genealogical bewilderment in these individuals is often seen as stronger during the adoptee’s marriage, birth of children, and the deaths of the adoptive parents.[6]

In infant adoptees, behavior problems can be seen as the child comes to fully understand what adoption means- that to be chosen by their adoptive parents, their biological parents had to relinquish them. This realization can result in acting out, a common coping mechanism for grief in young children.[12] This grief continues to be significant as the child realizes that they have no access to their biological parents; this realization can grow into feelings of genealogical bewilderment.
childhood adoptees exhibiting behavioral problems are often expressions of unresolved internal emotional issues like the “fear of becoming attached, unresolved grief, a poor sense of identity, depression, and strong underlying feelings such as anger and fear related to past trauma.”[13]

“[An issue] that surfaces repeatedly in an adoptee’s life is that of identity. The development of an identity is a crucial building block for self-esteem, and an adoptee’s struggle to achieve a coherent story is often a daunting task. The sense of continuity, of a past and present that is necessary for identity formation (Glen, 1985/1986) is defied in mandates governing closed adoption” (p. 66).[14]

‘the morning’s hush’

I am penultimate

haze to your mourning dew

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
mary fryeImage


One for the other
In an onslaught 

Of offerings 

Depends whose mind 

You think you’re in 

You want to be in 

The quest 

Or the keep

Finders keepers always 

Makes my mind go jeepers Creepers

Horror movie treasure hunt

Doesn’t somehow sound as

Appealing as 
Find your life’s treasure 

Hidden in pulsingly bright 

Plain sight 

Boxes of Letters

kids today will never know the effect of a love letter written in the hand of your beloved
Kids today are as cool as I think they are – and they might figure out that old people like me might have something to impart.

Mostly, I’d tell them:

1) never do not see music just because you are alone and think you can’t go to a show by yourself;

2) take good pictures of your friends;

3) be generous;

4) love often but not carelessly;

5) trust that voice in your head that people who don’t understand physiology call “your gut”;

6) know who will accept your collect call;

7) be thankful for everything you can think of;

8) do what you fear;

9) to be determined…

On this day

A lot has happened.

In 1992, Hurricane Iniki struck the island of Kaua’i, the day after we had returned from an aborted kayaking trip for Eric’s birthday on the Big Island of Hawaii. We had camped in an area where the spirits migrated up the valley, and there was an other-worldly hum to the place. On the plus side, we got to hang out with a dog the whole time which made me happier since we were stranded and had to hitchhike out of the valley instead of paddling our way around the coast. When we left, the dog went back ‘home’ in Waipio Valley.

We returned to Kaua’i and went out for Eric’s birthday, oblivious to the roar headed directly for the excruciatingly beautiful ‘most isolated’ land mass in the world. It hardly seemed ‘fair’ that a hurricane that was stronger than Andrew (which had just decimated Florida) would be so bent on making landfall on such a small island. But it did. And the eye of the hurricane is one of the most mystical experiences I have ever witnessed, Stephen Hawking’s theory that we are specks in a vast landscape of nothingness, not-withstanding.

We woke up at 4 in the morning, taped the windows, ‘secured’ our house (to no avail, but one must try) and headed up to our friend’s more secure home to ‘ride it out.’ I remember looking up at the beams in his ceiling often during the storm. I had just bought a new, used truck and I saw it almost get sliced by a roof that flew off and started careening towards us (winds peaked at 160 mph in the mountains), only to be stopped by one of those old school metal clothes lines, which bent to the ground with the force, about 18 inches away from my 4WD truck.

One hotel—the Coco Palms Resort famous for Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii—never reopened after the hurricane.[8] Destroyed housing across the island left more than 7,000 people homeless after the storm’s passage.[9]

We returned to our house after the storm and most of the roof had flown off. I had been somewhat terrified at one point during the storm when the radio station in Honolulu claimed that Kauai was simply ‘gone.’ I thought, Is this how Dorothy felt? I had no Toto but, as it turns out, a Tin Man.

As we walked up, I was actually relieved to see any of the house still standing. Eric, on the other hand, was howling “like a Greek mother,” I thought. I distinctly remember that thought. I have no idea why I thought it but I did.

We rebuilt (we lived in a tent in our ‘office’ room for many months because the mosquitoes were vociferous) and made the house our own. I was the only one who could get to our Hospice office (with the giant emergency cell phone that was reserved for quick calls to family to let them know that, in fact, Kaua’i was still there) and remember driving down the two-lane road to Lihue and marveling at the fact that somehow I did not get a flat tire, there were nails and downed telephone poles scattered across the pavement. I had to go in to the hospital to check on our clients. Kaua’i Hospice would be forever transformed after that as we found our way into the work of bereavement for those who had lost so much in one ‘natural disaster.’

Nine years later, on September 11, 2001, the disaster was man-made.

Senses a senseless afternoon


Had we our senses

But perhaps ’tis well they’re not at Home

So intimate with Madness

He’s liable with them
Had we the eyes within our Head —

How well that we are Blind —

We could not look upon the Earth —

So utterly unmoved –
-Emily Dickinson


I had been thinking of giving away the big and bulky hardcover version of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson as I cull my collections across the country, diminishing ‘stuff’ that weighs more than I can carry, having peaked at my 48-pound pack in Tasmania (the lobsterman weighed it). 

Emily has sat on the stairs for two days, with photographs in between her page. I also have Edna St. Vincent Millay, albeit in paperback, same size (almost)-actually, to be precise, it is as thick but not as tall and wide. This book was a gift from my father’s second wife, who shared my love of poetry, and despite the pain I had assumed she caused our family, we became close over time and, alas, I hand onto this anthology of collected works as well.

I know not why. The likelihood of finding another poet among us has, as Stephen Hawkings would ask and I would answer if I were Jane Wilde, “a rather low probability” in these parts, meaning mankind in general, not my geographic location per google earth. Perhaps, this is what Emily Dickinson (which, with my pop culture anarchy brain, always leads me to think, Angie Dickinson, ‘Police Woman’) inferred with her lament – that if we could truly see (not falsely presume), we would be unmoved. 

But, at my core, I cannot accept such judgement on the world (perhaps mankind but not the world, the earth, its constant surprises and infinite beauty take my breath away, I am perennially, authentically moved by what I see) because it is precisely when I allow myself to see the world in its ‘true’ poetic form, it silences the cacophony of doubts circling my synapses and I am always “moved” by its infinite yet mysterious balance between insignificance and the possibility for meaning.