“Adoption—the sentimental value of mementos and heirlooms”

Have you ever assigned sentimental values to objects that commemorate and rekindle old memories? I had never seen a picture of myself as an infant and knew nothing about the first year of my life until I discovered the identity of my foster family. The box of mementos, photographs and relics they gave me thirty-two years later was priceless. Its contents stimulated memories I didn’t even know I had and helped explain the mysterious circumstances of my birth and adoption.

Adoption Detective | Judith Land

Souvenirs, mementos, memorabilia, sentimental keepsakes and heirlooms that remind us of others triggers nostalgia and accomplishes the goal of living on in the hearts of others.

Most of us hope that we will live on in the hearts of others. Our life is a collection of stories that we weave together from what we can recall based on fleeting images and pieces of the past. Mementos are artifacts that stimulate our memories and trigger storytelling; they are one of the best ways of being remembered by those left behind. Most of our memories are a matter of love and the sorrows love brings. The more we love someone the stronger the memory of them becomes because our emotions expand when thinking about the past. There is pleasure in recognizing old things; it is natural to attach a sentimental value to things that connect us to the past. But, for adoptees, the memory of exile, trauma and a sense of loss is an experience of bereavement compounded by the disappearance of family, country, language, culture, time and reference points. The pleasure of remembering is taken from them when there is no longer anyone there to share their memories with. Life is difficult for adoptees and exiles when life’s trajectory has been altered and the past purposefully expunged from the historical record. Their early memories may seem forgotten, but they are often simply filed too deep to be recalled at will, and tend to resurface when least expected. Their recollection of circumstances that have caused suffering and pain motivates them to learn more about the past and drives a yearning to seek sanctuary in a time and place that they once belonged. Life goes by so quickly that we can hardly capture it, but when we do, we cherish the memories and emotions those moments evoke. Photographs capture fleeting moments that are instantly gone forever and impossible to reproduce. They have an enduring value because they remind us of tangible things we can see and touch associated with the event or person that gain special meanings and relevance.

“Mementos” are symbols of a person or experience that has no real significance other than a psychological connection to a past memory that can only be articulated by the owner. A memento is any personal possession that the owner attaches significance to because it has a nostalgic value. “Memorabilia” are valued for a connection to a past event that brings back memories. They are anything kept, or given to be kept, as a token of friendship or affection as a remembrance. They are often stored in display cases to be preserved for posterity. Memorabilia are treasured for its connection to a special event that brings back memories of a bygone era, a person or an event. Trophies, metals, diplomas and autographs recall such events and offer proof of a personal connection to a time, place, person or accomplishment.

“Keepsakes” are gifts that evoke memories of a person or event with which it is associated. They may be considered as reminders, relics, remembrances, emblems, antiques, souvenirs, tokens and prayers. Family bibles, letters, personal artifacts, albums that contain photos, historic documents, and descriptions of persons and significant events make valuable keepsakes because they are sentimental and nostalgic. Baby books that define the story of how a child is welcomed into his or her family makes it easier to tell each child’s unique story. A description of chronological events helps guide them through past happenings by stirring memories and providing a positive sense of self-identity. Life books, locks of hair, metals, badges, pedigrees, musical instruments, paintings, jewelry, relics, handmade items and antiques attached to relatives or someone of importance are popular keepsakes.

“Souvenirs” are remembrances that trigger automatic emotional responses that have a powerful impact on memory. Souvenirs are objects that help us recall a place visited, a special occasion, an event or a person of relevance. Souvenirs associated with weddings, anniversaries, honeymoons, expensive purchases, and vacations often trigger powerful feelings of nostalgia that encourage return visits. An “heirloom” is something, perhaps an antique, jewelry, clock, painting or furniture attached to an inheritance or estate that has been passed down through family members.

A well organized collection of souvenirs, mementos, memorabilia, sentimental keepsakes and family heirlooms preserves the family history, triggers nostalgia, provides clues to self-identity and accomplishes the goal of living on in the hearts of others.



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Souvenir, ricordi, cimeli, ricordi sentimentali e cimeli che ricordano gli altri: la nostalgia e compie l’obiettivo di vivere nel cuore degli altri.



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“Adoption Discovery—I have a brother and two sisters?”

Adoption Detective | Judith Land

I daydreamed about the brother and sisters I had never met. Fervently hoping to be reunited with my biological siblings some day, I decided to clarify my thoughts in writing. I placed a bouquet of flowers on my desk, gathered my favorite stationary and fountain pen, settled into my favorite leather chair and composed a letter to them.

When I discovered the identity of my biological parents I was elated to learn that they were married to each other. I was even more wide-eyed and over-joyed with the discovery of a brother and two sisters; a serendipitous outcome that I had never anticipated. I had been raised as an only child in a quiet neighborhood with nobody to share my thoughts and secrets with other than my surrogate dolls, my dog Toby, and my neighborhood Lilac Sisters. My father was never home and my adoptive mother was a somber individual who attended church every morning and spent her afternoons painting in solitude. The interior of our house was dark, lifeless, shadowy and wraithlike and reeked of the unpleasant smells of oil paints and turpentine. The idea of a household filled with the voices of other children, raucous laughter and gaiety was a new image of a family that had been completely lacking in my youth.

I was wildly enthusiastic about meeting my siblings but I was uncertain if I would ever be given the chance. I had a major decision to make about how to approach them. Should I obey my birth mother’s desire to keep my identity secret from her other unsuspecting children to protect her reputation as she had requested, or should I defiantly disobey her wishes and brazenly reveal myself to my siblings against her will? I sat by the window quietly absorbing the view of the verdant mountainous hillside towering above me as I weighted the alternatives. I could feel the tension leaving my shoulders as the ever-increasing heat from the warming rays of the early morning sunshine pierced the windowpane. I was tired of internalizing my childhood fears and fervently looking forward to a fresh new chapter in my life. I was eager to overcome my apprehension and the pitiful negative feelings genealogical bewilderment had caused me. I paused to gather my thoughts and daydreamed about what the future might hold. I filled my fountain pen with ink and placed the tip on the stationary. The words I was seeking flowed out naturally.

“My lovely sisters and dear brother, I am your prodigal sister returned from a hapless life of isolation in the wilderness. When our parents were very young I was abandoned due to the unfortunate timing of my birth and left to independently find my own way in the world with the hope that I would be offered a better life by someone else. I unconditionally forgive them for everything that happened to me. I am happy and healthy. I do not regret my youth. My childhood can’t be recaptured and my past experiences are history. The future is what is most important to me now. In my new life, I serendipitously look forward to the highest achievement any adoptee from a closed adoption can ever experience—the pleasant discovery of a positive self-identity based on “truth” accompanied by an internal joy and sense of belonging that is beyond expression. The three of you are very important to me. I fondly look forward to eventually reuniting with you sometime in the future. I am the happiest girl on the planet today. I send my fondest regards and all my love. Your sister, Judith Ann.”

How do some of the rest of you feel about adoptees meeting their siblings?


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“Adoption—I pity the babies in the back row”

Judith Land | Adoption Detective

I feel sad when I visualize the least fortunate children in an orphanage—the babies haplessly isolated in the back row who have a distinct disadvantage over the more favored ones in the front row. Nurses and caregivers naturally tend to make more eye contact with the infants in the front row because it is impossible to walk past them without being responsive to their cooing sounds, facial expressions and baby talk. Babies in the front row are much more likely to be tickled under their chin, be allowed to grasp the fingers and hair of others with their tiny hands, to be held and swayed, to have more frequent eye contact with caregivers, and have their pillows and blankets fluffed up more often than the babies in the back row.

I pity the infants in group homes, hospitals, orphanages and wards haplessly placed in the back row who have a distinct disadvantage over the babies in the front row who naturally receive more attention. The separation of a defenseless baby from their mother’s breast is a distressingly traumatic event that traumatizes the child. The devastating effects of maternal deprivation and social isolation on infants is staggering. For as long as they have existed, orphanages have had alarmingly high death rates. Fearing contagious disease, attempts to keep orphanages sterile often involves isolating children from each other by doing things like placing sheets and glass panels between their cribs. Yet, children raised in orphanages continue to contract all types of illnesses and remain scrawny and show obvious psychological, cognitive and behavioral problems, and tend to be less curious, less playful, and more subject to infections.

Psychologists have long known that separation from their mothers in the first six months of life can produce severe deficits in virtually every aspect of behavior from which the child may never recover. Scientists have described the tender intimacy of the attachment between mother and child as a sacred mystical instinct essential for the normal growth and survival of the child. They have provided conclusive evidence that love is vital for normal childhood development and revealed the long-term devastation caused by deprivation, leading to profound psychological and emotional distress. The catastrophic effects of sensory and social deprivation at certain critical periods in early childhood can have on children’s subsequent development can be devastating. Experiments have shown beyond any doubt that social interactions with other humans are essential. When this experience is lacking in infancy deep psychological primal wounds may develop and be exhibited as freezing in fear, blank staring, crouching down, repetitive physical motions, selective mutism and thumb sucking. Psychologists have repeatedly demonstrated the importance of companionship in the early stages of development for normal social and cognitive development.

Psychoanalysts, physicians and scientists have offered irrefutable proof that infants in institutions suffer from a lack of love–that they were missing important parental relationships, which in turn was hurting or even killing them. Research has added scientific legitimacy in favor of psychological parenthood. The permanence associated with adoption has been shown to be far superior to other arrangements when it comes to safeguarding the future mental and emotional well-being of children in need of parents.


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Mi-e milă de orfanii nefericite din rândul din spate | 可惜我在後排的不幸孤兒


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“Adoption—the only thing adoptees have is hope” Judith Land

I pensively reflected on the life of the mythical Greek goddess Pandora—too curious for her own good—her insatiable curiosity had caused Pandora to accidentally release much evil into the world; the only bountiful gift from the Gods remaining inside Pandora’s Box was hope. Was I following in Pandora’s footsteps, ignoring the warnings of the past, too curious for my own good, teetering on the brink of discovery of a hidden past that is best forgotten? I weighed the consequences of continuing with my adoption search. Friends warned me about the perils of failure, and the risks of a pending doom followed by painful emotional disappointments. “The kettle may be hot. Don’t burn yourself. What is the point? If I were you, I wouldn’t go there,” they strongly cautioned in unison. My curiosity and internal drive to uncover the past and discover my true self-identity were stronger than all the red flags, pessimistic thoughts, and rational doubts espoused by others.

pandora | Adoption Detective

Pandora’s box is an artifact in Greek mythology given to Pandora which contained all the evils of the world. Today the phrase “to open Pandora’s box” means to perform an action that may seem small or innocent, but that turns out to have severe and far-reaching consequences.

Alternating between fear and joy, a torrent of incomplete opposing thoughts of the birth mother I had never known was causing electrical short circuits in my brain; I was being driven by my emotions. I desperately wanted to find her but the task seemed endlessly hopeless. There were no clues to follow. I didn’t even know her name. My stomach acids were churning. The emotional turmoil of my adoption search was wearing out my heart.

I sat at my desk twirling my hair, starring blankly at a clean sheet of white paper, wondering how to capture my conflicting thoughts on paper. I sipped a warm cup of camomile tea and listened quietly to the lyrics of Rod McKuen’s song “If You Go Away. If you go away on this summer day, Then you might as well take the sun away, All the birds that flew in a summer sky, And our love was new and our hearts were high, When the day was young and the night was long, And the moon stood still for the nightbird’s song, If you go away. There ain’t nothin’ left in the world to trust, Just an empty room full of empty space.” I paused, took a deep breath, thought about heaven, shrugged my shoulders, and relaxed. I placed my pen on the blank sheet of white paper. Thoughts of my birth mother unconsciously spilled out of my head into words.

Dear Mom,

I am your biological daughter. We share the same flesh and blood. Our genetic blueprint makes us similar. I have more in common with you than anyone else in the universe. For that reason, I hope fate will reunite us so we can rediscover our inherent natural connection as mother and daughter. My life is filled with wonder as I linger in limbo, thinking about the mysterious circumstances surrounding my adoption. It is an enigma why we live in isolation. Seeking an end to the negative torments that plague my soul drives my desire to find you as the only way to calm my restless spirit. As a lost soul, I look forward to a time when I can end the myriad of doubts and insecurities that dominate my dreams. The many obstacles placed in my path to prevent me from finding you have tested my will, and the act of overcoming them has strengthened my spiritual faith. Can you sense my presence in the back of your mind, slowly eroding away the barriers that lie between us like the relentless ocean waves that inspire me?

Love, Judith Ann


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l’unica cosa che gli adottati hanno una speranza | 唯一被收养人有希望 | 입양인이 유일한 희망입니다 | adoptees केवल एक चीज आशा है | הדבר היחיד שיש לי מאומצים הוא תקווה

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“Adoption—The Prophet Muhammad was adopted and the father of an adopted son”

The Prophet Muhammad was a man from Mecca who unified Arabia into a single religion under Islam. He is believed by Muslims to be a messenger and prophet of God. Muhammad was an adoptee and the father of an adopted son who believed that special attention should be paid to the care of children as prime recipients for charity—orphans should never be treated with harshness or driven away. A completely abandoned child is rare in the Arab world because Islamic law places a great deal of emphasis on family and the ties of kinship. If a child is orphaned, a thorough search to locate blood relatives to care for the child is an important step in the placement process. Contrary to adoption practices in the West, adoption by non-relatives seldom happens because removing a child from the local community, country, culture and Islamic religious roots is prohibited.

Kaaba_at_night | The Prophet Muhammad

The Kaaba, in Mecca, Hejaz region, today’s Saudi Arabia, is the center of Islam. Muslims from all over the world gather there to pray in unity. The Prophet Muhammad was a man from Mecca who unified Arabia into a single religion under Islam. He is believed by Muslims to be a messenger and prophet of God.

Sharia is the moral code and religious law of Islam that deals with secular law, personal matters, and everyday etiquette based on the infallible law of God, as opposed to human interpretation of the laws. Persons of the Islamic faith follow very specific rules laid down in the Qur’an that define the relationship between a child and their guardian parents, which is better described as a foster parent relationship. The role of the guardian foster parent is described as the individual responsible for feeding the child. The Qur’an reminds adoptive parents that they are not the child’s biological parents. Islamic rules specifically emphasizes to the adoptive foster family that they are not to take the place of the biological family. Their role is highly valued and important but they are merely viewed as trustees and caretakers of someone else’s child. Open adoption is required. The adoptive guardian foster parents are instructed to never hide the child’s biological family from the child and never allow ties with his or her biological family to be severed. Guardian parents are instructed to call their adopted children by the name of their biological father. The adopted child always retains their own biological family surname and does not change their name to match the identity of the adoptive parents. Changing the name of the child is not allowed because it is contrary to the truth.

According to the Qur’an inheritance follows biological lines and does not automatically descend from the adoptive parents to the adopted child. If the adopted child is provided with property and wealth from the biological family, the adoptive foster parents merely serve as trustees. Islamic law commands them to avoid intermingling their adopted child’s property and wealth with their own and by law can never give more than one third of their inheritance to an adopted child.

Rules of modesty exist between the adopted child and adoptive guardian family members of the opposite sex, but when the adopted child is grown, members of the adoptive family are allowed to marry adopted children because they are not a blood relative.


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اعتماد | الأطفال الأيتام | المتبنى | אימוץ | ילדים יתום | מאומץ | Adopsi | Anak yatim-piatu | pungut

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“Adoption—how far can you see?”

Adoption Detective | Book

If you are an adoptee, rise and look around you on a clear day. It is through your inner eye that you will learn to see who you are, and know that the glow of your being, outshines every star. You’ll feel part of every mountain, sea, and shore and see from far and near a world you’ve never known before.

Where do mental images come from when we seek a higher level of consciousness to visualize our ancestors who lived before us, or form a mental picture of the future world our grandchildren will inherit? And, what about the blind or the adopted child lacking vision or knowledge of the past? Disregarding the telescope, camera lens, microscope, eye glasses and other devices that enhance our vision, we know that the surface of the earth curves out of sight at 3.1 miles (5 km); we can make out the faint glimmer of a candle flame up to 30 miles (48 km) away; the moon is 250,000 miles (400 km) from earth; and the stars in the Andromeda galaxy are an astonishing 2.6 million light years away; but it is in our minds that we go the farthest and see things that our eyes can’t distinguish.

Ancient humans associated clairvoyance, precognition, the ability to see auras and religious visions with the most primitive stem of the primal human brain. They believed this was the location that induced enlightenment where the evocation of mental images of a deeply spiritual, personal and psychological significance originated. This is the point where they believed our mind allows us to travel beyond the gate that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness; a mystical and esoteric part of our brain that provides perception beyond ordinary sight that helps us form mental images of the past and future and things we can’t actually see. Scientists believe that over time, as humans evolved, the inner third eye atrophied and sunk into what is known today as the light sensitive pineal gland, which excretes in large quantities a substance that causes one to experience feelings of inspiration at the moments of birth and death.

Our forebears survived over the millennia by chance, luck, skill and natural selection. We are the progenies of individuals who survived natural disasters, diseases, plagues, famines and wars; persons who were blessed by fate who made the right choices at the right times. They were smarter, faster, more brutal, cunning, luckier, virile or simply survived because they avoided detection and confrontation. There seems to be a call, a natural urge, in all humans to comprehend and fulfill past traditions of family, nation, culture and religion and a belief that knowledge of ancestry and genealogy is an inalienable and entitled right of every person. DNA offers proof of our identity and relationships to others. Genealogical records provide information about the appearance and physical stature of individuals, locations where they were born and died and their occupations—but for adoptees, it is most often through our dreams, clairvoyance and perceptions of a higher consciousness that we learn to build up our self-image and get to know and understand ourselves. So, on a clear day rise up and know that it is through your inner eye that you can learn to see forever.


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“My adoption involved a wild car chase—just like in the movies…” Judith Land

Judith Land | Foster Family

My foster father angrily protested when I was taken from his home by a young inexperienced social worker on my first birthday. He chased her in his car through the streets of Milwaukee. Cramming the accelerator to the floor and nearly losing control as the rear tires spun wildly, he repeatedly changed lanes without using his turn signals until he tightly closed the gap and tailgated her through several red light intersections.

I was happily adjusted and living with a foster family with four sisters and two loving parents who had applied to adopt me. A big celebration was planned for my first birthday—it never happened. The social worker handling my case rudely entered my foster parent’s house without warning and literally tore me out of my foster mother’s arms. “I rejected your request to adopt this child because you already have four daughters of your own.” My foster father was indignant and unaccustomed to speaking in anger. He pleaded passionately. “This is a terrible mistake. You need to do what is best for the child and not be unduly influenced by the financial donations of your wealthiest clients attempting to buy favors. My entire family is closely bonded with Judy. This is where she belongs. We love her. She is bonded with us and has been with us since the beginning. It would be psychologically devastating to separate her from the only family she has ever known.” The social worker awkwardly jerked the zipper on my snowsuit upward until it caught in the skin under my chin. Desperately trying to break free of the tight grasp of the stranger who was terrorizing me, I wailed loudly in pain and fought back as desperately and valiantly as I could. Chills ran down the spines of my foster sisters as they huddled together in fear and worried about what was to become of their little foster sister. I starred at them frantically with hurtful tear-filled eyes—my haunting primordial screams lingered in the cold morning air as I was forcefully dragged out of their house kicking and screaming. There had been no time to say goodbye. One minute, I had been giggling, singing, and amusing my foster sisters; then I was suddenly gone forever.

My foster father looked down at the sad faces of his four sweet daughters and cried openly for the first time in his life. His whole body trembled. The image he had of me looking back at him with my big brown eyes and furrowed brow, trembling and afraid, was the saddest image he could ever recall seeing. He held my soft pink baby blanket and fuzzy little bunny rabbit in his hands that I had loved so much as he watched the black car with the darkened windows speed away. His eyes were glossy and dazed like a staggering punch-drunk boxer. At that instant he came to the realization that he would be forever haunted by the lingering vision of his lovable foster child, eyes overflowing with tears, desperately clawing and screaming for his assistance as the social worker forcefully dragged me away.

Impulsively, he knew what he had to do next. He grabbed his car keys, dashed out the front door, tripped on the porch steps, tumbled head over heels onto the sidewalk, and limped to his car cradling his bloody elbow. He revved the engine, recklessly slammed the car into reverse causing it to lurch backward, jump the curb and smack into his neighbor’s garbage can, which went noisily flipping across the street. The lid rolled wildly in front of an oncoming car causing the driver to violently swerve to one side to avoid a collision. William crammed the accelerator to the floor and nearly lost control as the rear tires spun wildly, creating smoke and squealing loudly as he recklessly aimed his car north on Layton Boulevard until he spotted the large black car several blocks ahead. He increased speed and repeatedly changed lanes without using his turn signals. The car he was chasing intentionally ran a red light to avoid being caught. William tightly closed the distance between them and tailgated the social worker through two more red light intersections. Regrettably, he became confused in traffic about which black car he was following and accidentally made the wrong choice at a fork in the road. Teary-eyed and silent, his family was waiting for him in the living room when he returned home empty handed two hours later. My abrupt and unexpected departure had created an emotional void and an ache in their hearts. My foster father eventually regained his composure and broke the silence. “Social services has made a horrible mistake. Judy belongs with us. She is certain to be psychologically traumatized unless we act soon. I’m going to hire a detective and fight to get our daughter back.”

This story was told to me thirty years later when I met my foster family in person. They were wonderful people. I was thrilled to be reunited with them again as an adult.

http://www.adoptiondetectivejudithland.com | Adoption Detective, Chapter 6

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Mon adoption impliqué une poursuite en voiture sauvage

我通过参与野生追车 | 내 채택 야생 차 추적을 포함 | تشارك اعتماد بلدي مطاردة السيارة البرية

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