‘Unbound Ties’ by Mary Ellen Gambutti

soft cartel may 2018

The dad takes scores of photos of his charming, chosen child whom the mom has styled in ringlets and dressed in organdy. Pride in the images he creates?  His ego nurtured in spite of loss of natural paternity? Yes, to both. Her parents adjust to their adoptive role with impeccable clothing and care, music lessons, and the best schools, within the constraints of his military career and frequent transfers.

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Reflected in a New York City shop window wearing fancy dress and diapers, who’s that little girl with her happy, young Mommy? She’s the one who brightens their lives, makes them a family. Mounds of photographs accrue to me as my parents and grandparents age and pass. Albums are devoted to childhood moments and immediate family. Others of known, unknown, and unbound ties. I recognize faces who have crossed my plane only in tangent; with whom I share neither heritage nor habit. I handle the rough, yellowed leaves in futile search of familiar captions, and commit to being caretaker of their memories–my adoptive ancestry.

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Sealed origin is best for all, the State and Agency dictate. Fall of 1957, I am six, and Dad stands at the head of my bed while Mom hovers at the foot.

“I’m going to tell you the story of where you came from: Mommy and Daddy adopted you. We brought you home, because you had no one, because you needed someone to love you and take care of you.” Sealed origin is best for all, the State and Agency dictate. Fall of 1957, I am six, and Dad stands at the head of my bed while Mom hovers at the foot.

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