Author: Sofie Gregory
I stand in the spotlight looking out through a haze
Foggy day. Dust specked aura of bright light night
Who do you address when you cannot see the audience?
I’d never thought about it; never expected to be here myself.
A platform a microphone and no one to stop me
Surely the chandelier will crash from on high
But it is the friendly ghosts who stand with me now
I’m speaking to and for the Great Unknown; those who’ve gone before
And those who are yet to come
And I speak to the unknown people out there and my friends
Fellow film makers and those who care about what we are doing.
Some have come for the entertainment
No one expects a political speech, except those who know me.
I’m wearing blue; my mother dressed me in sky blue
People said it suited me; blue of the blues
I don’t wear it often anymore
But tonight I’m swimming in an ocean of unknowns
Comforted in the waters of the womb
Strength and endurance from my days as a swimmer
Stroking alone for hours philosophising not socialising
Alone is what I know well. So I speak from the deep.
Seeds and shells around my neck
I connect to the land that nurtures and the water that contains
Never in my life before have I selected clothes for an event
Or expected to find in my wardrobe something ‘just right’
And I feel OK. Sixty-seven years preparing for today
I belong in my skin. I reside within. And things can only get better.
I say ‘I came with no experience as a film maker’ and think or even as a member of an audience
‘And I have never told my story’ I continue
‘As an adult adopted at birth, I have carried my mother’s shame and the secrets and lies of my life.’
Nothing descends from on high and I continue somehow
I wish I’d asked someone to record this. I think only of behaving responsibly
Don’t say ‘adoption is a life sentence’. Don’t say what is in the film
Maybe I say ‘when the doctor asks, there’s no medical history; no history at all’.
I look to Fiona at the dais and she asks about my group
‘Ah, the ad break’, I think
‘IdentityRites’ and I spell out r-i-t-e-s and add dot org
Everyone speaks this funny language now. I move to hand back the microphone.
But forces rally around me within me and I add
‘In our name we express concern for all other false identities
Created for donor conceived people and through surrogacy arrangements.
And in a moment of passion I add ‘if we have learnt anything from adoptees
We can expect children born through surrogacy arrangements will have the hardest time of all’.
There! I did it! And I hand back the microphone.
My film shows and the job is complete. My film is different, my life is different. I will never again be my mothers’ secret drowning in their lives’ lies.
Later someone from the audience tells me she’s making a film on egg donation and I ask if she has seen the film ‘eggsploitation’. I have an ally from an unexpected source.
Another woman tells me now she understands better an elderly friend who was adopted and they look forward to showing her the film.
Surrounded by friends and others who have paid me the respect of honouring my journey. The first time in my life I’m proud of an achievement and having accepted the help of others to get here.
I am not alone. I am truly happy. I celebrate with friends.
Sofie Gregory participated in the Exchange’s Good Lives on Film course in 2015 and has gone on to make more films.