Friday, November 4, 2011

Joan Didion: Adoptive Parent

This review of  Blue Nights, Joan Didion's memoir of her daughter's death, excerpts some parts of the book about the adoption of Quintana Roo:
What would have been Quintana's seventh wedding anniversary prompts a stream of reminiscences. Didion recounts that she was in the shower when Dunne told her that a doctor had just called to say there was "a beautiful baby girl" up for adoption. She burst into tears.

* * *

Quintana, as an adopted child, worried about abandonment: what would have happened if Dunne and Didion had not been home when that all-important phone call came, she asks. What would have happened to her if they had had an accident on their way to picking her up from the hospital?

Didion, a worrywart even in happy times, obsessed about things happening to her daughter. "All adoptive parents fear that they do not deserve the child they were given, that the child will be taken from them. Quintana. Quintana is one of the areas about which I have difficulty being direct," Didion writes.
Is Didion right, do "all adoptive parents fear that they do not deserve the child they were given?" Is that your fear? 

I heard an interview with Didion this week where she talked about her guilt that her daughter died, that she felt she had an added responsibility because of the adoption, that she was given the child to care for, and she felt she failed in that responsibility.  Do you have that feeling of added responsibility?  I remember a friend whose daughter adopted from China had broken her nose shortly after she came home.  When the mom called me, she said in despair, "I've had her for less than 6 months, and I already broke her!" 

Has anyone read the book yet? If so, let us know what you think.


Lorraine Dusky said...

Not only read, but deconsctructed from a first mother's point of view:

Joan Didion's Blue Nights is really an adoption memoir

malinda said...

Thanks for the link, Lorraine. Wow, your review is very powerful, so layered I had to read it twice!

Didion's book is definitely on my list now.

Anne said...

I absolutely feel an added sense of responsibility. I know there is nothing I can do to make up for the fact that my daughter was separated from her biological family. That loss will be with her for the rest of her life. While I understand that I can help her process that loss by being open and receptive to her thoughts and feelings, I can never make up for it. I do feel a sense of responsibility to do everything "right" so as not to add to the burden she already carries due to adoption.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say myself or even most of us feel "unworthy" but certainly not entitled either. Such a tremendous gift does carry added responsibility and I agree with Anne.

I would liken it to a purposeful parenting style; keenly understanding that our "parent handbook" just doesn't include the usual chapters! :)

And I'm not making light of our responsibility to share their birthright with them nor am I suggesting that most days are anything less than spontanious normal family activities, because most days are just that!

But knowing their inherent loss and the long road to get them here, absolutely colors some of our parenting choices and perhaps makes us truly appreciate every day, all the moments!

I know this ~ I never felt the need to gripe about the little stuff to a group of women or wish away a stage/age! Too much time was already gone!

Unworthy? No.

But mindful, careful and sometimes cautious? Yes.

Reena said...

Anne and Anon 12:12 Pm pretty much state how I also feel as a parent.