A new, old birthday

Today is my father’s birthday. It wasn’t his birthday last year. It wasn’t his birthday for the past 68 years. His 69th birthday is his first January 5th birthday. It’s also the 69th anniversary of his death.

To say that this day is more contemplative than celebratory would be an astronomical understatement. My father is not the victim in this convoluted mess of social engineering. His life was both normal and remarkable. He was in the first generation in both his adopted and birth family to earn a college degree. He worked white collar jobs and enjoyed the benefits connected to them.

In the pile of paperwork that the state of TN finally released last year, there were a dozen letters written to Georgia Tann that are actually love letters from his adoptive parents to my father. My father was and is loved.

The tragic victim is my father’s birth mother. We will never know how different her life could have been without the unspeakable pain of losing a child. She never left her small, middle TN town. My father’s birth parents are old, frail, and alone. His half sister sits in a jail. It took an additional generation for his maternal birth family to access higher education.

Depending on your perspective, we are either protecting his birth mother from additional pain to the wound that never heals or taking the easy out by not letting her know that, despite what Georgia Tann said, her child did not die. I both hate and understand this. Her pastor knows that we want to help her and don’t know how to do so. Southern women have many strengths and faults but, accepting help from strangers is not something we do easily. I don’t expect to hear from her pastor until she is gone.

We can’t ease her pain. That is foremost on our minds today. On every other day, I am determined to fight against people and politicians who use religion to interfere with the lives of others. Today, I am sad. Not for myself, but for a grandmother I will never know.

Happy Birthday Dad. I love you.

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