The adopted daughter series began, most of you will remember, as a response to and in co-ordination with Poor Statue’s diary about being a birth-mother.  It is a wonderful diary, and if you haven’t read it, I would encourage you to go back and read it  right here.

Previous installments of the Adopted Daughter series are available on my diary page  click here  

My intent in telling you how life unveiled itself to me was to relate the particular emotional/psychological difficulties I personally encountered having been an adopted child myself.  We have seen the inner structure of detaching emotionally from many things, the stuffing of emotions, the emerging behavior of a “people pleaser.”  It took me a long time to learn and to identify these behavioral challenges and find new healthier ways to deal with them.

So, as we have now taken me up through my early twenties and you have had glimpses into the varying ways these things affected my personal life, and a few clues as to how they might affect another child in somewhat similar situations, I think my purpose in starting this, rather long retelling of my life stories, has been completed.  I will continue to finish this compilation of stories and form it into some sort of book presentation.  I am gratified by everyone’s interest in my storytelling, and most appreciative of your warm response and encouragement.

Personally, I don’t know that my particular life story is so unusual or so unique that there is a commanding reason to continue to post it, although I appreciate that you have encouraged me to continue it.  

Here is a summary of the remaining years:  

As a child I was very much the small child attempting to be the grown up.  When I hit my twenties and came to understand my sexual orientation, it was a huge challenge and yet in another way it was very liberating, and I gave myself permission to become a child for the first time and to let that child out to play.  Play I did.  I met and interacted with a whole new and unfamiliar world of people in the gay and lesbian communities everywhere I went.  I also had spaces of time when I tried very hard to be straight.  It just seemed like it would be so much easier than to face all of the condemnation and challenges and secret keeping that my view of gay life entailed.  My one very serious attempt at a hetero lifestyle was just too much like stuffing my emotions even further, and the lack of integrity I felt just ate me up.  I followed that with one more less gung-ho attempt at it, when I finally decided I just couldn’t do it and survive in any form of who I truly was.  I wasn’t able to become one of the walking dead, as I viewed it.

From my late twenties to my late forties I found a lot of solace, enhanced sense of well being, and escape in drinking.  I was not one of those drink every day drinkers, nor do I ever remember feeling that I couldn’t make it through a day, or an experience, or a crisis without a drink.  But I drank plenty when I drank.  I was one of those happy drunks.  Had a good time and made everyone laugh.  At the bars I frequented, I seldom ever had to buy a drink.  People would say, “Thank goodness Shirl is here, this place is too quiet and too boring. . .Get her a drink. . .get her several drinks!”  It was not uncommon to have 10 or 12 drinks sitting on my table at any time.  You can be certain I made sure I drank everyone of them too.

I also found, sometime in my thirties that I thought drinking (I mean serious drinking) enhanced my abilities to write.  What I know from this current place in my life is that it certainly opened up my rants and outrages on topics that had great meaning to me.  A few years ago, in my collection of writing (unceremoniously stored in a suitcase in order to hold it all) I found a piece that I had written quite passionately wondering why other’s did not seem to feel things to the depths of their soul in the way I did.  It was an interesting enough read, but actually reading it was something else again.  I like to say that it was written in the drunk, drunker, drunkest stages as the writing became progressively so difficult to read that it took me several hours to translate it into recognizable words thirty years later.  Did drinking enhance my writing?  I doubt it.  It did open up the floodgates of outrages and passions I was unwilling to allow such free reign when I was sober, but I am not so sure that it added any enhancement.

My parents and I found a middle road to walk together.  In my early thirties I finally understood that I loved them and was able to show and tell them how much appreciation I had for their love and sacrifices.  It was sometimes an uneasy alliance, but later in life it became a quite wonderful relationship, especially with my mother.  They knew of course that I was gay, yet I never had that talk with them.  They did not want to know about it.  They did not want to hear the details.  But they knew.  As every child does, I wanted their approval and encouragement, but that was something they either did not know how to give, or just were not able to give, or didn’t feel they should give.  That is certainly not anything that is peculiar to adoptee parents, or to parents of gays and lesbians.  It is one of those things that just is.  

My mother never gave up trying to get me back into the Mormon church, but finally, in the last 4 years of her life she recognized I was not going to change my views, but in her estimation I was a good, honest and spiritual person and she reckoned that was okay with her and God.  And I don’t suppose that God minded her speaking for her/him.  “God” or that creative source energy and I have long had a very clear understanding of and with each other.

A couple of years before mom died, in 2000 at 95 yrs., I sat her down in front of the video camera and we captured about 6 hours of her telling family stories.  What a treasure that is.  If you have an opportunity and the urge, I would suggest that you do the same, or at least use a tape recorder.  It is really an amazing and wonderful type of history to have.

My younger brother Ron, whom you have never been introduced to, is a terrific and talented guy, 7 years my junior.  We were very close until I moved out of the family home at 19.  That our relationship changed was very hurtful to him, as truly he had been a very significant focus in my life up to that point.  Over the years we mended broken fences and he went on to great success as a CPA and later a Financial Vice President of a manufacturing Corporation.  Six months before mom died, he had a stroke at 53, and had to leave his position and adjust to a whole new househusband role.  He has a large family and a wonderful wife, four children and 8 grandchildren.

Kent, the brother I dubbed “the wanderer”, broke parole and had to serve out another year of prison in California.  He married a woman who had a 7 year old son by a previous marriage, a couple of years later they had triplet daughters who were not identical but fraternal (shouldn’t that be maternal?).  Three very individual and beautiful girls who are of course now quite grown women just turned 40 with families of their own.  One of the three, Melinda (Marilyn and Melanie are the sisters), is the spitting image of me.  She also has enormous numbers of my personality traits and former behavioral problems.  Genetics are a little scary sometimes, and who knew?  Anyway, she and I are in the process of encouraging her to some better tools for handling life.  I am also encouraging her to write, as it is her passion as well.  Kent stayed with this family for 8 years, and no one was more amazed than I was.  I kept thinking any day he would be off and leave them in the lurch.  He did, eventually do just that.  He wandered many places and had a special love of Mexico where he often went in the winter.  He had guys he hung out with, always used pot, and sometimes other drugs, and had a drinking problem as well.  His material possessions could have been packed into one suitcase.  He was fine with that.

Kent was always the charmer, and I very early on learned not to believe one word he said.  It could be true or it could be the biggest whopper of a lie ever told, you never knew.  He always found a woman who was willing to take him in, support him and be broken hearted when he would disappear for weeks, months or permanently.  If he came back, they always took him back.  Women, I wonder what you could have been thinking?  I spent two weeks with him in Southern Utah the month before he died of Leukemia, and we had some good chats.  I had to share that experience with his on again off again partner of the past 17 years (many long absences there), that was an experience I could have done without.  But it kept me on my toes feigning ignorance or loss of memory regarding the many tall tales he had told her about himself and me and our family.  I sent him off to ride free on an Indian paint pony into the realms of a wonderful vision he imagined his after-life would be.  Ride on brother, ride on.  I am sure the wise old Indian chief met you and welcomed your entry into that place you longed for.

School for me was ongoing, a class here, a class there over my entire lifetime.  In the past 7 years I completed my BA and my MA and am now about to complete my PhD.  No, there is no particular reason to have done that except that I knew it would feel good to have finished my unfinished business.  I know that I will always be studying something for as long as I am on the planet, and that is a thought that appeals to me very much.  

I could focus my energies on whole mini-books about my years in the Army, or my views and experiences of my partner relationships and gay life in general,  or my two brothers and our impacts on each other, or the decision to become an ordained minister and the founding of an ecumenical church, or my months living in a tent atop the high desert mountains in Southern Utah at 9,000 ft elevation,  or the therapy with the perfect for me therapist that gave me the tools to start living a more meaningful life, or the many years spent as a Union official and advocate for workers often seriously harmed by their employers, or my very focused and all consuming spiritual quest of nearly 20 years duration and the miraculous, joyful and meaningful life it has brought me.  

Most of these things I will cover in greater depth in my writing of the book that seems to have some purpose in being written, “Notes in The Margins.”  The spiritual journey is already a writing that is about half complete as a book of its own, “Skating on The Edge of Infinity.”  

Your acceptance and participation in these stories has been very meaningful to me, and I thank you for opening this community and your hearts to me and my story telling.  I love being a part of you all and sharing in our common concerns and interests.

Blessings and hugs,  


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