Sunday, 8 November 2015

I like to imagine this photograph of my mother was taken on a previous visit to Wake Wake Island. She wouldn't have believed it if she'd been told that she would return in a few years to give birth to a baby girl.  

I've been working away (developing and scanning) abandoned slide film from the 60s and 70s to create the landscape of WAKE WAKE ISLAND.  I'm hoping to have something tangible to show by the end of the year.  Although it's my project, it feels a little out of control and little bit magic.  It's more like I'm finding a place rather than making it--never knowing what I will get with each roll of film.  I put a (what I thought was unused) roll into a camera and shot it last week.  After processing it, I found the images on the film to be of dark children and palm tree beaches--instead of the photos of my white pasty children and Scottish hills I'd taken.  The scans have shown a trace of my images, a nod to double exposures.  Both sets of photographs are there somewhere.  And so my two worlds collide, which seems only sensible--I've begun to think of Wake Wake Island as the in-between shadowy hinterland existing alongside my adopted suburban world. The place I lived for the first year of life--where my legal name was Amanda Lee Deaton--where I was someone whilst I was becoming someone else.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Last March I returned to my birthplace to trace my beginnings at St. Joseph Maternity Home.  Five months later, a portrait of my daughter will be hung in Cincinnati at Manifest Gallery​ as part of their Expatriates Exhibition.  Lydia is just barely 19 in the photograph--a few years older than my own birthmother was when I was born.  I feel like in certain ways I just keep returning.
Obsessed with all things Cincinnati (especially the sitcom WKRP) as a child, I now know that Ohio was just a stop-gap for me-- I was conceived and raised in Indiana. Cincinnati still does somehow feel like where I'm 'from'--that in-between place that I belong to as an adopted child.  It's probably more accurately called Wake Wake Island.

'Baby, if you've ever wondered,
Wondered whatever became of me,
I'm living on the air in Cincinnati,
Cincinnati, WKRP.'

WKRP in Cincinnati Lyrics by T Wells and H Wilson

Friday, 15 May 2015

Thursday, 14 May 2015

My father's basement.

I keep wanting to write things with the photographs here but there's too much to wade through to get to something even mildly intelligible.  I'm not sure who I'm writing to and I'm not sure how much you know about what has happened to me or if you even know who I am and that I only met my (birth) father a month ago.  I have trouble monologue-ing to an invisible.  I imagine first that I am talking to a stranger, then my mother, then my birth mother, then my birth father, then my high school friend, and then a photographer that I am 'friends with on facebook.'  I'm not sure if I should be protecting the reader's feelings or informing them, or maybe I should be speaking to myself.  I don't know.  I do know that I have to stop starting every freaking sentence with 'I' but this is difficult and I can't seem to be able to sort through my feelings and sort out my writing at the same time.  I'm just going to stumble through and write something and hope that someone can hear what I'm trying to say.

My father took me on a tour of his home--the house his grandfather built in 1929.  We couldn't go upstairs because there are lodgers, but we could go in the basement.  It's dark and filled with boxes of my family's stuff as most basements are.  The only trace of me was a photo in a box of my mother and my father in happier days (before I was conceived and sparked the small-town cover up in 1976). There is no box of stuff with my name on it here.
This is why it is difficult to be adopted.  The people I come from do not know me, and the people who know me I did not come from.  It's dark and sad, but there's beauty in there somewhere-- sorta like creepy basements with illuminated crumpled paper on top of washing machines.

This is my mother.
She stood very patiently for this photograph and didn't act like it was weird at all.
We said goodbye about 3 minutes later and I didn't really know what to say.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Initially I was just sort of drowning in too much information and emotion, and now I'm treading water in an adoption hinterland.  Now I wait for everything to settle.

This is a photo of my niece, who is also adopted.  It was taken in the city I was born in, one day before I met my father and two days before I met my mother.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Summer 1976: This is the first ever photo of me.

''I am sorry I have no other photos of me pregnant. They aren't real big on a lot of pictures at an unwed mother's home (wry laugh). I think this was taken by my mom on an outing when they came to visit.  I'm kind of surprised that it exists. Also surprised I don't look near as huge as I felt.''


Friday, 6 March 2015

This photo was taken on the 20th of October in 2012 at the beginning of another abandoned search for my birth parents.  The red tape of finding them from overseas (and the fear of them not wanting to be found) always got the better of me.  I wrote the following a few months later:

Driving in the car on the Sunday morning, Hugo piped up from the backseat: 'Mum...I know how you can find your first parents...when we go to America, you can write down their names and tie them to trees and lamp know, like they do when a dog or cat is lost...'
True to form, I instantly teared does a 7 year old know that sometimes being adopted feels a bit like being lost?  And Son, I wish it were that easy...I wish I knew their names and I could tie them to some sort of social networking tree and hope they might see it...but even then, I'd probably be dragging my emotional feet like I am now.
For maybe the 3rd time in my life, I have the papers here to fill in and start the search for my biological parents...and for the 3rd time, they remain partly filled in and filed away in a drawer under a pile of 'important' papers.  We've had 4 birthdays recently, I'm working non-stop, and Christmas-time is a'coming.  There doesn't seem to be time to do it.  There never really seems to be time, and so I sort of file it in my head under a pile of  'important things that need to be done' like taxes and Christmas shopping.
When it hurts a bit to think about something, I tend to stop thinking about it....and then those thoughts lay low, gather force, and attack when I least expect it.  Like when I'm standing at a show, listening to First Aid Kit, and they start a Paul Simon cover...they break into 'I've gone to look for America...' and I realize that I'm crying and that this time I need to send those darn papers.

In the end, it only took one photo on facebook and three days to find my mother, and now I've gone to look for America.