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Search and Reunion: Clowns, Quilts, and Burns, Oh My!

Part 3: Ease on Down the Road

Generated by Chat - GPT using prompts by Becca Flatt.

I understand that part three should be about burns, and I have more stories to share before we discuss the emotional scars I bear. There can be an experience of this journey or at least the illusory idea that there is a hard start and stop to the search and reunion process. The only hard starts and stops are confined to the biological life cycle. The search and reunion process has no beginning, middle, or end. There is just a never-ending spiral that we find ourselves on, moving up and down, returning and going over the same places we have been with new information as we process and plant gardens that we will tend throughout our entire lives, returning and finding the blooms of new truths and weeding out the fallacies when we revisit.

Dorothy’s journey along the road inspires my imagery, but the process is not linear or flat. Connecting with ourselves and our birth families requires us to become more aware of our inner and outer worlds. We need to move beyond the oversimplified presentations of our adoption narratives and make space for a deepening of mental complexity. While the story of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz may appear simple initially, its beauty lies in its complexity. It has shaped my inner world in many ways. This framework was passed down to me by my birth-grandmother by way of needle, thread, and fabric.

In the story, Dorthy meets the scarecrow first. The scarecrow does not hold significance for me. However, corn and Kente do; therefore, I will introduce you to the keeper of the corn; she carries a basket of corn and wears a Kente cloth dress. In Ghanaian culture, kente conveys information within the patterns about life and right living, and corn symbolizes our connection to our ancestors; for me, the process of looking for my people was a call from my ancestors that I answered.

Searching required me to look inside my wounds, not just notice the outside. I needed someone to do this exploration with, and naturally, I asked the people who raised me to help me inspect them. I received two responses as I let my parents know I was ready to search.

From my  Dad, it was grounded support and acknowledgment of the importance of knowing my people. He understood what it meant to be disconnected from your birthright; as a Black man in the United States, he held a deeply felt connection with not having access to culture that belonged to him and yet was always just out of reach. His presence anchored me as I showed him my wounds, and he validated the pain. 

 As for my mom, her response was fear. Fear of being abandoned and replaced. Her fear soaked into every aspect of my search process. Her fear was suffocating and disconnecting. She could not see anything past her experiance; she asked me to tend to her fear while I tried to understand and create meaning from the pain at the center of our family creation. Thus shifting me into the parentified role I knew all too well. It was the last time I would ever fill that role unknowingly because my search process lit up my inner world like a light show in the dead of night. I could no longer hide from myself or how much pain my adoption and experiences with a lack of adoption-competent parenting had harmed me.

It can be tempting to look at my parents, my Dad, as the good parent and my Mom, as the bad parent, when in reality, my parents are so much more than the choices they made during this time in our family’s life. My truth is that just as I am a deeply complex human being, so are my parents. Their complexities were difficult to see before I found my complexity.

Learn about Kente Here:

African American Intelectual Historical Society

Black Perspectives Blog 

The History and Significance of Kente Cloth in the Black Diaspora By James Padilioni Jr



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