I knew from the time they were born and gave them up for adoption in 1968, that I would try to contact them when they were old enough, like twenty-one. My original search began after channel surfing late one evening/early morning. An infomercial about Concerned United Birth Parents (CUB) presented itself for that purpose. Call it fate. I took action. The one and only time I’ve ever been in Toluca Lake was when I went to a CUB meeting and it was there, that I found Anna, a search person who, for $100, found out where they lived.


I sent my birth children, Amelia and Corina, a letter explaining how much I loved carrying them and creating their life. I loved being pregnant.


One sweltering, August heat wave night, my friend English Jenny and I drove to their home with two duplicate letters with a photo in each one. I thought Jenny’s accent was cool and official enough to be a delivery person.


Amelia and Corina were then living together. One of them answered the door, in a baseball cap turned backwards. Jenny reported back to my car where I was anxiously waiting and I excitedly said, like I was going to burst, “What did she look like? What was she wearing? What did she say? What was she like?”


Six months later, Fred and I were seeing our therapist, Vickie. Fred walked in and said I had received a phone call from Amelia, my/our daughter (another story).


I called Amelia immediately when we got home. She asked me if I would like to get together. I said, “Yes! How about now?” How’s that for nonchalant? Amelia selected the Novel Café off Main Street, next to One Life Natural Foods in Santa Monica. It’s a real throwback to the ‘60’s coffee houses. I live in Santa Monica and had never been there.


No information about how to identify each other, although I had seen her photo in a magazine’s society page. She walked in wearing retro 40’s hair, medium length, held back behind her ears and a very ‘50’s jacket…looking like my mother, Ruby. Amelia knew me from the photo. We smiled and hugged. I thought I would explode. It was an out of body experience. We took a small table upstairs. I came armed with photos of her family she had never met. We drank each other in and after four hours, we were saturated.


I learned they had traveled the world with their platinum spoon good fortune. Real live debutants, soft-spoken, detectable kindness, and sincere courtesy. They were raised Catholic with a Jewish soul. I thought we would be having lunch in San Francisco where she planned to move to be an interior designer but as our visit closed to an end so did my dreams. She said, “This may be enough for me. I haven’t told my mother I was seeing you.” Her mother is a high profile social being, art world, and very threatened that I had ‘surfaced’. I figured Mom was freaked out their bond would be broken. I told Amelia, “I understand. You know where we live, and our door is always open.”


I never heard a peep.


What an opportunity for tons more therapy sessions and time to grieve and accept. I often wonder where people get their depth of character. It don’t come easy!


Stalking or Sleuthing? I had done numerous drive-bys, hid in the shadows of a Hollywood Club to see her play her bass in her rock band, and continued seeing Amelia and Corina’s photos in the tabloids and magazines. Once I got to see her put her bass in her trunk as we drove by slowly one dusky summer evening, on the way to a party. She was wearing bright red lipstick and looked great! She looked like my mother and I. Good fortune again.


The Westside of L.A. gets to be a real small town. I had friends who actually had dinner at their house when they were growing up. My friend Lois’s daughter lived down the street from them and went to the same elementary school. When I happened to see their parents at a couple of art openings, her mother looked at me as if to say, “Gee, do I know you? You look so familiar!”


Fast-forward six years and back to ‘the house’. I had to determine if my birth daughters still lived in this Spanish style, red tiled roof, single story home, and three blocks from Hancock Park, my old elementary school that their father had bought for them several years ago. Really! What are the chances they would live there!


It was one of those sweltering hot summer June days that if you were driving across Arizona you could see the steam rising from the ground and a tall Navajo man dressed in black with a wide brim black velvet hat walking down the road looking like his feet were on wheels.


I was wearing my favorite flowered batiste skirt I bought in France in ’85 and 2 tissue paper thin shirts. I was hot. I hate the heat!


I was coming from visiting my friend Lois who had just discovered her breast cancer had returned. Then and there, I realized life is too damned short. It just so happened my shrink (do they shrink the fear?) was out of town on yet another play/work excursion to NYC or Paris or her home in Sea Ranch that I helped subsidize, and therefore I couldn’t think/feel my actions through with her; another opportunity to practice spontaneous destruction.  How fortuitous!


I had a concrete excuse ready why it was so important for me to contact them. My cousin Alan lives in Berkeley, a retired psychologist and unique collector at the Alameda Swap Meet, had produced an amazingly, entertaining 3 disc DVD set of our family going back 6 generations using photographs, music, 8 mm films and text. I thought it would be of interest for Amelia and Corina to view their ghost family. 


With building trepidation, I walked up the winding path to the front door. Some flyers and newspapers were strewn around. It looked like maybe they had moved. A note telling the mail person to leave the mail for their father was taped to the mailbox. At least I knew I was in the right place but maybe I was too late.  I felt disappointed and relieved at the same time. I walked back to my car.


Just then, a black SUV came around the corner. An attractive, dark haired, young woman stopped in the street. She asked, “Who are you?”


“I’m your mother. I’m your birthmother,” I blurted, already starting to cry.


She said calmly and politely, “I’m so glad to meet you. I really want to talk to you, but I’m on my way to an appointment with my physical therapist. I had an auto accident and some surgeries last year.”


Feeling like I was going in multiple directions at one time, I said, “I won’t keep you. Please drive carefully (so I can see you again I was thinking).


By that time we were laughing and crying and she said, “Would you like to come in?”


I said, “Yes.”


Corina and I spent the next four hours drinking each other in. I learned that Amelia was married and lived just a few blocks away from Corina. Corina lived with her reggae boyfriend, cat, goldfish (feng shui, that’s my daughter!), and some great paintings. We touched palms and fingers, measuring our hands, moved from room to room sitting and talking in each one. She said, “I love fresh air. (Are you kidding? Fresh air is my middle name!). That’s why I built this deck outside our bedroom. Do you turn your mattress? I do. (Me too, daughter of mine!) Amelia doesn’t! (Not mine) We tried to call you when we were twelve but you were unlisted. Was that you that drove by slowly one night when I was putting my bass in my trunk? I thought it was you. It’s my birthday next week and my sister and parents will be out of town.”


“Can I take you out for your birthday”?  I said, trying to move slowly so I didn’t scare her away.


Corina said, “Yes.” (Yes!)


I floated home. My life felt resolved and complete like a missing piece of the puzzle had just fallen into place.


We exchanged e-mails and then…”I spoke with Amelia and we’re not ready yet,” wrote Corina. 


“And the beat goes on….. ” Sonny and Cher


‘The sad part is just a story”. Fred Fischer

 

CARLA FISCHER

WHO ARE YOU?


May 8, 2008

My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have the potential to be comic stories the next.  -Nora Ephron 


The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say but what we are unable to say. -Anais Nin


Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird will come. -Chinese proverb


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