Adopted by a family at 3 years old, Amanda always fought being called by that name. To her, she was Sarah. And although she relented and lived by her new name Amanda, the name Sarah was always in her heart.
I Remember Being Called Sarah is a heartwarming and thought-provoking look at the world of adopted children showing the different way they relate to their environment and their selected world. Imagine not being able to trust anyone in your personal arena and existing day to day wondering who is realiable and honest, thereby confusing your very existence. Sarah had a few memories when adopted at three years old, but no one seemed interested in them. No one seemed to realize that a little child could remember anything significant. Therefore, she kept her thoughts to herself for years and although Amanda was the name on her birth certificate, the name Sarah always felt more comfortable to her. She tried to be a good girl so her new family would want to keep her, but inside she never felt totally loved and couldn't quite trust. This story is about Amanda's journey to discover herself and along the way she teaches all of us valuable lessons.
Amanda Peterson insisted on facing her past alone. She actually felt somewhat relieved when the plane finally took off from Scranton International airport and she felt the surge of power as the plane unsteadily began its upward climb. She left behind a crying mother, a slightly concerned brother, an extremely reluctant and unenthusiastic fiance as well as a supportive father, who alone believed she could handle the situation. Reflecting on the recent scene at the departure gate, she realized it was only another replay of the past two weeks.
Mom was crying. "Honey, must you go on your own? For one last time..."
Dad said, "Amanda's right. It's her life, Jan. Besides, for heaven's sake, we're at the airport. She has her ticket. Let it go."
Amanda gave him a grateful smile. "Mom, I love you. I'm forever grateful you chose me to be your daughter, but I do have to find the people who gave me life. I need more information than you have. And yes, I must do it by myself."
"Your father and I've done our best to give you all the facts we know," she added, still hoping tears and a sad demeanor would have some effect. Amanda realized her mom was now exhibiting the famous dejected look used many times in the past to try to intimidate her children into surrendering. Lately, it merely challenged her to stand strong. Yet in that moment, Amanda knew beyond any question, that her mom would never stop trying to get her way. And she did keep trying, even as she boarded the plane.
"Mom, we still don't know if my birth certificate is genuine. I'm going to visit the orphanage and see if they can help me discover the truth about my past. If they can't, then, at least I'll know nothing more can be done. I'll have tried all I could and I'll be satisfied, you know?"
Her brother, Bryan simply smiled at her in agreement. His facial expression acknowledged they'd been through many similar scenes with their mother before, and he didn't plan to add to the tension.
"If this is the way you want to leave, alone and indeed vulnerable, I guess I'll have to accept it," her fiance added. "I know you need to do this and I'm glad you'll be able to fill in some of the blanks in your life. But I wish you'd let me come with you," he reminded her as he paused looking at her hopefully. He wondered if there was anything else he could possibly say, but Amanda just looked at him and waited. Therefore he continued. "Okay, if you want to face this alone just remember that I'm only a phone call away if you suddenly need me." Jeremy was at last reluctantly accepting her decision to go it alone with a sense of finality, and she saw him exhibit a slight display of pride as he looked at her with new-found respect.
"You know I'll be fine, right?" She put this question to him as a challenge. She needed him to realize her strength.
She hugged each one separately, adding an individual message. For mom, "You taught me well, mom. I'll be fine. Thanks." For Jeremy, "I love you honey. Don't worry." For Bryan, "You were always my rock and now I can do it alone. Thanks." For her dad, "I'd love to know what you're thinking. Love you, dad."
Her relationship with her father had developed into a special silent communication most of her life wherein, under the guise of a game, they pushed each other intellectually and psychologically to their respective limits. She knew she wouldn't find out his thoughts at this moment, but needed to try. And, true to his personality, she saw a carefully disguised smile, purposely concealing his sentiments.
The previous month had been incredibly difficult for her. Finding a way to tell her parents that she needed to search for her birth family had given her many anxiety attacks, but she had managed to overcome that barrier without hurting them. Amanda's only drawback was a timid vulnerability that she always seemed to convey to the world. She was a people pleaser. She admitted it, knowing therefore that she must share at least some of the responsibility for others' reactions.
Making personal decisions and learning to stand-alone had been a goal of hers in the last few years. Amanda knew as she challenged herself more that she was having an easier time lessening the guilt she usually felt when going against others' opinions. She was proud how she handled her family at the last family meeting when she'd told them of her travel arrangements. No one agreed with her, except her father.
"Amanda's made her decision; that's it for me," said Dave Peterson.
She appreciated her father's philosophy of letting his children do their own growing. He never jumped in to try to rescue them, but was always available if requested.
Immediately, she saw the expected tears coming from her mother. "You shouldn't be alone at a time like this. What happens if you get information you don't want to hear, honey? I should come with you for support. I can't stand the fact that you'll be alone."
"Thanks, mom. But I need to face this alone. I'll share everything with you later." Amanda stood strong and was proud her inner strength hadn't failed her. She could witness her mother's disapproval and disappointment without crumbling or feeling guilty.
Bryan, with a hint of agreement said, "I'm here if you need me, but it's your decision, Amanda. If you want to go alone, then go alone. It's really up to you."
She appreciated Bryan wanting her to spread her own wings. His obvious belief in her ability somewhat braced her. They had helped each other mature solidly over the years.
"It's too much for you alone, don't you agree, Dave?" repeated Jan, and, as Amanda looked desperately to her father for help, he didn't disappoint her. She heard as he reminded his wife it was Amanda's choice.
"Did you let Jeremy know? He'll have a fit if you go alone," added Jan.
As Amanda thought of Jeremy, she figured that, if this were true, her fiance, then, would simply have to have a fit. He had encouraged her to go and do what she had to do. She knew he wanted to be with her, but she wanted to do this alone. She knew she'd need time to digest any information received and she didn't want to be influenced by anyone, even a well-meaning family. This was her life, and at this time, she felt it should be a solo journey.
The commotion continued for over a week until Amanda felt relieved when she finally left. The motion of the plane was actually soothing as it climbed into the area of the clouds and glided smoothly along. Taking a deep breath, she realized she could at last examine her own fearful thoughts alone and in peace. She had some hidden fears, actually quite a few. She attempted and succeeded in keeping them under control and away from her doting relatives. Although families were great, they could be unbelievably burdensome.
Now in the tranquil atmosphere of the airplane flight, she realized she was somewhat apprehensive. Why had this return to the orphanage been so important to her? Possibly the information presented to her would only add to her nightmares and not lessen them. That could definitely happen. Yet she had decided to advance forward anyway. Her mind had been in limbo for too many years; it was time to face her past. She had to know.
All her life she had wanted to discover important facts about her early years and with an impending marriage, medical and psychological information could be valuable. She wouldn't indulge in playing mind games. She had a need to know. Her nagging thoughts were always there creating a challenge and urging her to find out the tiniest detail that could satisfy her. The gauntlet was in front of her to be accepted or rejected.
"We are now preparing our descent for the PRC airport in Prescott, Arizona. Please fasten your seat belts and remember no smoking is allowed. We should be landing in approximately thirty minutes. We ask that you remain seated until the aircraft has come to a complete stop. We hope you've enjoyed your trip and will fly with us again. Thank you."
Trying to recapture her attitude and memories, she hoped her nightmares were behind her and not ahead. Anxiety traveled up her spine as she remembered her recurring dream of a little girl named Sarah who seemed extremely frightened and alone. Another even more perplexing dream detailed the figure of a woman who was always annoyingly obscure in the background and never came forward where she could be seen. Shifting slightly in her seat to relieve tension she admitted the dreams had caused her concern, but she wouldn't turn back. Never. She wanted to face her past and she wanted to face it alone.