How Adoption Created an American Churchill
Today’s coffee-talk-with-a-therapist hits a veritable “Expat Adoptee Mommy blog trifecta” — Rhonda Noonan is a therapist, a writer, and an adoptee. … A famous adoptee, no less.
Being adopted out of a famous family–talk about popular adoptee Ghost Kingdom fantasies!
In this case, Rhonda Noonan is the biological granddaugther of Sir Winston Churchill. Yes, you read that right. She was adopted by an Oklahoma couple as an infant.
Today and tomorrow, Rhonda and I will be talking about her memoir and adoptee rights. But first, we have to start with a topic that’s tough for so many adoptees: rejection.
On Secondary rejection
Laura – Not to put too fine a point on it, but your birth mom rejected you, hard.
She refused meeting you for years, and when she was finally all but forced by your half-sisters to sit in a room with you, she said less than two sentences. The entire time. After that, she never saw you again. And yet, during the meeting, you mention that she was constantly glancing over in your direction, sneaking peaks at you.
I believe she was a smart, but damaged person, and a product of her times. There are plenty of reasons for her rejection: she was harassed and manipulated when she found herself pregnant with “a Churchill.” We’ll never know exactly what happened, unfortunately. I don’t need to tell you that the way she treated you was not okay.
Nevertheless, the impression I got was that you were so determined in your quest to find out your true biological roots, you seemed to have little time or energy to wallow in grief, to let your birth mom’s bad behavior get the best of you.
How do you feel you came to this point? Is it some innate sense that you don’t have to bow to others’ view of you, or was this resilience honed over time?
Rhonda – The enthusiasm I held for searching was fueled by the possibility that my grandfather had cared about me; that my new friend, Lillie, knew the truth. That possibility challenged all of the beliefs I had held about myself; that I was unlovable, unwanted, and forgotten.
My birthparents were never more than steps in the direction of finding him.
I had cast off the uncaring in favor of hope and optimism.
The intersection of the supernatural, religion & therapy
Laura – In The Fifth and Final Name, you talk a lot about your relationship with a medium, Lillie. At first you approach your readings with her with a healthy dose of skepticism, but as time wears on, it becomes clear just how accurately she can foresee future events in your life. And you begin to trust her completely. Truly, she seemed to accompany you through a large part of your journey, even in her death.
Tell us … How do you reconcile your religious upbringing, with your trust in the supernatural, with your education as a therapist and a scientist?
Rhonda – I have always had a questioning and open mind about things that are not explainable. My experiences have never seemed at odds with my upbringing, but rather an opportunity for greater understanding, with appreciation for all religions and spiritual paths, as well as the awareness that each of us travels their own, unique journey.
They have made me a better therapist and a better person; blessings that have connected me to my grandpa even during the lowest points of my search. Some years ago, a friend of mine, who considered herself a “numerologist,” (one who studies the influence and power of numbers) told me that my biggest lesson in life was to “learn to believe in things you cannot see.”
Suffice it to say: I believe.
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Thanks, Rhonda! Tomorrow Rhonda will tell us more about her grandfather’s thoughts on the supernatural and adoption advocacy.
She’s generously offered to give a SIGNED copy of The Fifth and Final Name to one random commenter.
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Rhonda Noonan earned an Associate’s degree from Northern Oklahoma College, and Bachelors and Masters degrees from Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Her career in mental health spans almost thirty years and includes stints as the Director of Clinical Services at five inpatient psychiatric facilities in Oklahoma and Colorado. She has spent much of her career working with adoptees and their families.
She dreams of the day when Adoptee Rights are restored in every state of American and when every person will have access to his or her heritage.
Rhonda Noonan currently lives in Sand Springs, near Tulsa, with two dachshunds and two horses.
Find The Fifth and Final Name, Memoir of an American Churchill on Amazon.
Coffee talk image from freedigitalphotos.net, other images courtesy of Rhonda Noonan.