My name is Virginia McLean, I am 34, a writer, historian, public relations consultant and Adjunct Professor at a University in London. I am also adopted, and this is my story.
When I did the Landmark Forum in November 2001 I decided to look for my birth mother, something I had denied that I wanted or needed to do. My birth father had died before I was born so finding him was not an option. I took the painful step of telling my mother and we ended up going to find my adoption files together. It looked liked it would be easy to find her, we had so much information now – names, dates, addresses, their University.
I gave the job of tracing her to a researcher. Over one and a half years later and we hadn’t found her. The facts my birth mother had given to the adoption agency were not adding up. She had lied, most probably about their names. I decided it was impossible, that I would never find her, that there must be some deep dark secret that had had her lie.
It was whilst on the Team Management and Leadership programme, coaching on the Communication: Performance and Power course that the course leader Naomi invited us to take on “derailing” our lives. I told her that I wanted to find my birth mother but didn’t even have her name. She invited me to take it on, standing in anything’s possible. So in my fourth quarter of TMLP I took on finding my birth mother and being in communication with her within 3 months as a team game in the world, using the distinctions around team, enrollment and structures for existence that you learn in Communication: Performance and Power.
The possibility I invented was of being vulnerable, generous and courageous and I really had to be that. I enrolled professors, students, journalists and even the registrar at Cornell Law School to help me. Using the address where we knew the courts had written to my birth mother I persuaded Cornell Law School to trace all the people who had lived there in the late 1960’s. One of them was my birth father. My birth mother had used his Christian name as her surname and his mother’s maiden name as his last name. Once we knew this, all the pieces fell into place and I was able to find him, still alive and living in New York. Then through him I found her. It took just under 3 months.
I met my birth parents six weeks later in December last year and we now see each other regularly and are creating an extended family in which I have 4 parents. My birth mother and brother have met my parents, and they are welcoming my new family as theirs.
I am clear this would not have been possible without the distinctions of the communication programme and the rigour of the TMLP. I am now doing Team 2 and using this course to fulfil on my dream of becoming a successful author, film maker and mother. I am also creating a network for adopted people and all of their parents to share stories and provide mutual support called ‘In the Same Boat’. This is a course that makes you face your fears to enable you to live your dreams.