I learned over the years that many times in families of adoption, it can be very difficult on the children who are already in the family. Most people who adopt aren’t able to have children for a variety of reasons, so the adopted child is usually an only child, or other adopted children come along, but when many of the Irish children were adopted in the 50s from the orphanages, they came to families in America who already had children. In most cases, no one asked these children how they felt about getting a brother or sister especially one that was not of the same blood.
Being the adopted child, it was a long time before my sister and I got along. I had taken much from her: time, companionship, and in her eyes love. When I arrived in America, as I have said previously; I was not healthy. I needed so much care, and attention. The reason for the adoption was my sister had lost her older sister, who she adored. There are no words to explain what she lost. Though 11 years separated them, they were constant companions. I was in no shape or form able to recreate that companionship, even though we were not even two years apart.
We are both older now and have a better understanding of life, and after over 50 years she was able to tell me that she hated me. How could a sister say that to hr adopted sister? She had lost her sister, then lost her parents as well with their utter devastation of being unable to live without her, and then “I got you.”
Believe me I get it. It was not my idea or plan. I didn’t have any say in the planning, or the execution of it. I didn’t hate her, but we were night and day, black and white, Mutt and Jeff you name it. We had nothing in common. I think you’re getting the picture.
We are friends now, and in my heart I believe we are sisters. I can’t speak for her, but over time we healed, and though we are still very different, I would do anything for her.
When I wrote The Swan Garden, I really wanted to tell the story of the girl turned mother, whose baby was taken from her, and how she went on with this secret that she was too terrified to tell anyone. I wanted to tell my birth-mother’s story as I thought her life might go. I may have succeeded in some cases, and in others I may have failed.
When I began outlining my 2nd novel I knew I wanted to continue Alice’s story, but I wasn’t sure whose voice I should use, then one day my sister and I had a heart to heart and I knew in that moment who would tell the story.
It would not be my sister’s story, but the sister I never met who learned piece by piece of her mother’s past. Garden of Nails is told through the eyes of Catherine, the middle daughter of Alice Leary.
Alice had three daughters, Rose, the oldest, Catherine, the middle, and Frances, the youngest; each of them very different, but they share Alice’s blood and so they find their commonalities through their lives together.
Then slowly little by little Alice’s secret is revealed and each sister responds differently. And as the story unfolds they find ways to deal with this news, some of the ways are quite outlandish, some are terrifying, while others are heartbreaking.
I have never had the opportunity to meet my sisters because my mother could never tell them I existed, and I made a promise I would never reach out to them. I have kept my promise. Maybe someday she will, or she will take her secret to her grave, but I did promise her that when something happened, our deal was off.
Time goes on and one day one of us will break our promise. I can’t help but wonder what they will think of me after all this time, or think of her for not telling them. Garden of Nails is my version of how they might have felt learning the news about their mother.
Release date January 2018.