30 Days of Secrets: DL Snow

UNLOCKING THE STORY OF A SECRET

Ahh, secrets. We all have them, don’t we? They are those little (and sometimes not-so-little) tarnished nuggets we keep close to our chest. Sometimes we hold onto them to protect others from pain. Much of the time, however, secrets are leaden weights, a burden heaped with shame, guilt and remorse. Secrets can be lonely and, if kept too long, have a habit of becoming corrosive and gaining a certain power over the psyche.

In my story, Siren’s Song, the heroine Joss Jones, has a secret. She believes she is responsible for her mother’s tragic death. Her burden is so great, she gives up fame and deprives herself of the one thing she loves most–performing. It is necessity (and a trip back in time to Bandit Creek, 1899) that forces her to confront her secret and to let go of the guilt, allowing her to be the person she’s meant to be. In the end, this opens up the possibility for greater things; in Joss’s case…love.

When I first started thinking about this blog post, I was stumped about what I should ‘reveal’ as my secret. I tried desperately to come up with something that was compelling enough to encourage people to read the post while somehow ensuring it related to my writing and my characters. Nothing came to mind. That all changed after reading Roxy Boroughs’ blog post on January 15th.  Roxy revealed a secret–a biggie–and after reading it, I sat in front of the computer, stunned, not only by the content of Roxy’s post, but because the subject for my blog post suddenly came to me (slapped me upside the head, actually). I wrestled with the idea all day and well into the night, finally committing to the brainwave somewhere around two in the morning.

Like any story, my secret has three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. But before I start, I have to explain how my secret relates to writing. I’ve dreamt of being a writer since I was a child. However, I never seriously considered writing as a career until I was at home with my two infant daughters. Every day during nap time, I would sit at my computer and write. Six months later, my first novel was complete. It is the story of a woman (an author) who, after losing her husband to cancer, shares one night of passion with the unlikeliest of bedfellows. Of course she ends up pregnant and the story goes from there. It is the classic ‘secret baby’ storyline. It’s both wonderful and terrible. Wonderful because I realized I could actually finish a novel, something that had previously seemed impossible. Terrible because…well, let’s face it, it’s my first novel and it’s terrible!

What finally struck me last night, as I considered my blog post, was the blatant connection between my first completed manuscript and my life.

You see, I was a secret baby. Not only was I adopted, but my adoption was kept a secret. The strange thing is, even though it was a secret, I always knew. At sixteen, when I secretly found my adoption papers, it simply confirmed my suspicions. My adoption secret blew wide open at a family reunion when I was eighteen. This secret was so well guarded that even one of my three older brothers (all born to my parents) didn’t know I wasn’t his biological sister until that day. Man, did he feel terrible for all the times he’d teased me about being adopted while we were growing up, never knowing I really was. What a relief it was for me to know he said those things, not because he resented me–his non-natural sister–but because he was simply teasing me as older brothers do.

My ‘secret baby’ story does not end there. Two years after that fateful family reunion, I discovered I was pregnant. I received this unexpected and rather dreadful news a month before I was to embark on a year-long tour with an international performing group. I will never judge anyone for the decision they might have made if faced with a similar situation. We all have our own journeys. For me, as a child who was given a chance at life (thanks to my birthmother–a wonderful woman I’ve since met and consider to be a kindred spirit) I could not deny another human being the same chance. Adoption was my only option.

It was the worst year of my life. Not knowing what else to do, I went away on my trip, keeping my pregnancy a secret for as long as possible. In the last few months, when I could no longer hide my growing belly, I left the performing group and went to stay with a dear friend who was attending university in the South. It was the week before my son was born that I finally told my parents. My brothers didn’t learn of his birth until years later. The day I left the hospital without my child was the worst of my life. Yet, because I was adopted myself, because I knew what it was like to be a ‘secret baby’ and to grow up in a stable, loving (albeit secret-keeping) family, I knew I was doing the right thing.

That is not the final chapter in my story. Fourteen years later, after years of unexplained infertility, my husband and I adopted two gorgeous little girls. They are the light of my life…as I write this sentence I am overcome with a strange choking emotion that hits me so suddenly it makes me gasp. I now know our inability to conceive naturally was not an accident but a form of destiny.

It is because of my beautiful daughters that I have understood three things about myself. First, I understand why my parents kept my adoption a secret. It wasn’t out of shame, as I’d previously thought. It was because (as they’d tried to explain to me) they didn’t think of me as adopted. Now I understand. My daughters are mine as surely as if I gave birth to them and although their adoption is anything but secret in our household, I don’t always share the story with people I meet. Sometimes I allow others to believe they are my natural-born children simply because the origin of their birth makes no difference.

Secondly, it is because of my girls that I am living my heart’s desire. That precious hour of writing during naptime, while I was on parental leave with two newly adopted daughters, taught me that I can be a writer if I set my mind to the task. Whenever I get frustrated because there’s noise in the house just when I’m fully enmeshed in the middle of a scene, I try to remind myself of this fact–I owe my dedication to writing to my family.

Finally, and most importantly, I now realize what a gift it is to be chosen to be a parent of a ‘secret baby’. The girls came to live with us just after Christmas 2004, and I can tell you that although there have been struggles (as any parent will admit) there is no gift that compares. I love my daughters more than I could possibly imagine and I thank their birthmother in my prayers for the choice she made, the gift she gave.

Now the story of my secret is complete. I share this, not to be shocking, but because I am finally ready to let it go. During the last 24 hours, after reading Ms. Boroughs’ post, my whole being has been screaming at me that it is time. There is no more shame, no blame, no guilt or remorse. I have been a gift, given a gift and received a gift. Beginning, middle…the end.

By clearing the space these secrets have held in my heart, like my heroine, Joss Jones in Siren’s Song, I believe I am making room for greater things.

To learn more about DL Snow check out her website at www.dlsnow.ca.

Leave a comment and your name will be entered into a contest to win all three of DL Snow’s books: Siren’s Song, Slayer and an advance copy of Thief of Hearts Part I: Wanted.

* The draw has been made. The winner is Sue! *

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69 thoughts on “30 Days of Secrets: DL Snow

  1. How intense! Thanks for sharing your secrets. It does seem like there is a whole adoption cycle that has come full circle, embracing you.

    catherinelee100[at]gmail[.]com

    • Thanks, Catherine.

      I must tell you, I was having second thoughts about this post last night…
      The idea of the cycle coming full circle, yes! That’s it exactly. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Wow, indeed! What a neat way of looking at it, DL, and, really, how true. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason, even if we don’t know what that is. Your story proves it. And your view on what has happened in your life is a true testament to who you are as a person.
    Well done, DL, well done.

  3. Your story is just wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing it. I hope that someday you daughters and son will understand your story and truly appreciate it. Have a wonderful day!

  4. wow. powerful story, DL. as others have said, it brought me to tears. I am so impressed by the learning you got from these experiences…your ability to see the beginning middle and end. amazing and truly inspiring.

    • Thanks so much, Louise. It’s taken a number of years (decades?!) for this ‘learning’ to happen…it’s still happening. I feel quite strongly that more learning will take place in the sharing of this story.

  5. I’m speechless Dara. I’m overwhelmed by your trust in sharing this with us. I always new you were an amazing woman, but this story just confirms that.

    I want to hug you right now. But you ain’t here. 😦 You realize the amount of hugs and love you’re going to get next time we all see you….

    • Thanks so much, Vivi. I’ve had huge doubts these last few days about whether this was too personal. But for whatever reason, it seemed like the right time. Maybe because of being surrounded by an incredibly compassionate and supportive group of writing peeps.

  6. Your heroine, Joss has one of those secrets that really are a painful burden. It makes me want to root her on and hope she learns more about herself as her secrets are uncovered. Sort of like yours, DL. Thank you for sharing your deep secrets. I’m glad you were able to find the good things about them 🙂

  7. Even though you were my younger sister, I have always looked up to you. You have such amazing strengths, an wonderful personality and a contageous smile. I have always loved you and there has never been a second that you werent my little sister. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to grow up with you. You are simply amazing…
    Love,
    Your big brother Curt

    • To my Big Bro,
      After all the years of playing together, fighting, being teased, having a system of secret knocks, being dragged behind a motorbike and co-creating the world’s first remote light switch, I am so fortunate that you are not only my brother but my very good friend.
      I love you.
      Darla.
      PS: Don’t know if you realize this, but after 12 years of marriage, you and Colleen are beginning to look suspiciously alike.

  8. Wow, DL. Just…wow.

    As an adopted baby myself (though I always knew), this is so powerful to read. The strength to reveal not that you were adopted but the difficult choice of putting your own child up for adoption made something deep inside ache for you.

    This 30 days of secrets has shown me that I’m just not surrounded by talented writers but I know some beautifully strong women too.

  9. I’m speechless, DL….well, almost anyway. I AM a writer afterall. I saw immediately when we met that you had a certain light in you that we aren’t just born with. And it looks just as beautiful now as it did then. ~M

    • Oh, Mandy, my partner in conference crime, I felt the same connection with you when we met – saw the same light in your eyes. Here’s to many future conference shenanigans!

      xo

  10. Absolutly amazing Dara! I was tearing up reading your story, growing up I always new you were going to be very successful!! I am looking forward to reading your books!! Congrats Dara on your success!

  11. Dear Dara,

    Your STRENGTHS never ever cease to amaze me. Your courage should never cease to inspire.
    Your kindness and confindence grows as beautifully as you do.

    And you are right D -Curtibum sure is looking a lot like his pretty wife these days!

    Love you.
    R

  12. Good thing fingers can’t get choked up, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write this. Your story has blown me away, not just because of your revelation (well, that would have been sufficient!), but the way you have written about it – so eloquently – from a place of happiness and gratitude.
    You rock, sister!

    • Hey! Thanks so much for your comment! I know, I’ve been experiencing that choked up feeling all day. Battled it by going for a nice long ski! They’ve track-set this year in Redwood, ahh, so wonderful! Made me think of you. We must get out for a ski, I’ll FB you about dates.
      xo

  13. Your story has brought tears to my eyes. Not because it is sad but because it is beautiful; adoption is the best gift one can to those that can’t have kids. Your life is like a “completed” circle…you were adoped, you gave up a child for adoption and then you adopted.

    Congrats on your book! It sounds wonderful!

    books4me67 at ymail dot com

    • You’re absolutely right, I do feel like my experiences have completed some karmic cycle. I guess that’s why I now want to share. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      Best wishes,
      DL

  14. What a beautiful story of truth to share. You are amazing Dara Lee. You are gifted in so many ways and this is just one more layer of a loving story. Thank you for sharing and directing us to you story! We miss you at EPS!

    • Oh! I miss you too! I think of you all often! I still lesson plan in my head when I hear certain news stories and read certain books. Once a teacher…

      Say ‘hi’ to everyone for me!
      xo

  15. This is just so beautiful.
    I remember you being always happy and very calm (especially considering how emotional we all got !!) I had no idea what you were going through during that year.

    As we get older, we are discovering a lot about what our journeys are meant to be.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Keiko! Thank you so much for coming by and commenting. It’s been a lo-ong time! How are you?

      You are right about the wisdom that years bring. Wish I had a time machine – there’d be so much I’d go back to tell my younger self!

      Take care!

  16. Hi Dara,
    I love that you shared your journey. My throat is tight and my eyes are filled with tears. Your courage and strength will inspire so many others in so many different ways. Your ‘gift’ circle has not ended here, of that I am certain. Hugs and love to you…
    Terri

  17. Awww Dara Lee. (((()))) I got a huge lump in my throat when I started to read your revelation, and that’s when I thought it was a fictional character speaking. By the time I realized it wasn’t fiction, I was on my 2nd tissue. You know I have always been a big fan of your talent and now I am just blown away by your honesty and generousity. Sharing something so personal in such a lovely insightful way is sure to be a comfort for someone who reads your words and allows their own burdens to lift a little with the realization that they are not alone with their secrets after all. Someone out there has experienced things that many people never speak of and come out the other side not just intact and seemingly well adjusted, but as the truly exceptional and utterly-delightful-in-every-way woman, that is you . You have such a good heart, and profound wisdom. Thank you for allowing yourself to be so open and vulnerable.
    PS
    Am I the only one who was relieved that there wasn’t an additional revelation featuring your brother Curt as a very attractive cross dresser? 😉

    • Sue!
      I miss you – your off the wall humour, your enthusiasm and unique way of viewing the world! How are you?
      Thank you so much for posting! As for the fourth revelation about my brother, well…don’t be too relieved yet. 😉

  18. Oh my you have me in tears Dara! What a wonderful, heartfelt and moving story. You are truly an amazing person, and I can be the proud one who gets to say “I know her”. I’m speechless, other than to say you are an inspiration.

    You have a left a wonderful mark in my heart that will stay with me forever. Thanks for sharing your secret.

  19. Wow…I can’t believe that I didn’t know what was going on with you during this year. For me you were the little blonde girl with a lot of energy on stage. I am amaze with your story and thankful that you will trust me and other to share it. THANK YOU !!
    I can’t wait to get your books.

    Nicole

    • Hey Nicole!
      So wonderful to hear from you! Thanks for taking the time to read the post and comment. I will always remember you as having endless energy and a huge, infectious smile! I hope you are well!
      Lots of love,
      DL

  20. What an amazing story,Thank you for sharing your it with us and I can’t wait to try and find your books here in Sweden. Hugs to you and your family.

    • Hi Catarina!
      How are you! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my story and comment. It’s lovely to hear from you. Hugs right back to you and your family. Please say ‘hello’ to Carlos for me!
      Lots of love,
      DL

    • Thanks CJ. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you, but you’ve been a huge inspiration to me along this writing journey. During that first year of writing, while the girls were home, I was looking for a good romance and bought one of yours on a whim. It wasn’t until I was finished and saw your picture on the jacket that I was pretty sure I knew you (and a certain sister of yours) – and I saw this as a sign (great book by the way). The following month I joined a writers group and who do you think was presenting at the first meeting I attended??? You! Then I joined another writers group and the very first meeting I happened to attend was at your house! By this time, I knew it was a sign that I was on the right path! Thanks so much for both your intentional and unintentional guidance!
      DL

  21. Dara, I’m so happy that you felt that you could share this with everyone. I think that for Ryan, Curt and I, we never ever really thought about it…to me, you are just my sister Dara. Maybe that isnt a good thing (we should have taken into account your feelings about it more and how much impact it had and has on your life). I dont even think of it as a secret, it was just something that I never really even brought up..having you as a sister has always been a natural part of my life…and a part that I’m so proud to have!!!
    love you
    ps Can I have your dessert

    • Thanks Darin! I totally get what you’re saying and I think that’s what I’ve learned from having the girls is that it doesn’t matter where you come from. Family is made up of those you love. I also wouldn’t trade my family for anything (that includes three great brothers). I think the fact that we are all so close, that we are all friends as well as siblings is what makes me feel so lucky. So yes, absolultely, you can have my dessert…but there is a proviso…as you’ll recall!
      Love yah!

  22. Pingback: 30 Days of Secrets Round-Up! | Musings of a Writer and Unabashed Francophile, by Alyssa Linn Palmer

  23. Wow, DL–I’m amazed at the roller coaster of emotions your post brought about. What a blessing your secrets have ultimately been–to you, to your parents and family, to your own family, to the families whom you’ve touched… And as other commenters have mentioned, what a beautiful circle your secrets and your life has come. Continued best wishes to you and your family–what a miracle your “secret” is!

  24. Hi Babes…….Reading your blog brought so many memories and thoughts. It seems unreal now how Dad and I let ” not telling you you’re adopted” slide by . Strange….the timing never seemed right, mostly because we always thought of you as just one of our kids. We never wanted you to feel different or not part of the family.You were loved the minute we brought you home,and what an amazing daughter you turned out to be.As is typical of you, when you found out you were pregnant, you handled the situation on your own.There aren’t too many young people as courageous as you.But, if only we had known, we could have been there for you during that year.Yes,I know there were feelings of shame and letting us down,but gosh kid….you were far more important than all that.I’ve never seen more courage than the day you and I held that little guy and said good bye.Yes you,re so amazing and strong,and carefully choose good parents to adopt your secret baby.My heart broke that day also, and I wondered at the time,if we were doing the right thing. Dad and I kept the “secret” all those years, not because we were ashamed,but only because you had asked us not to tell anyone,including the boys.When you and Peter adopted those wonderful little girles,we loved them immediately.They are soooo part of our family,and along with six other super grandchildren,what more could we ask for.You and Peter are great parents.Dad and I have always loved you,Babes,and are so proud of you, and that will never change.Love <Mom(Lady Lane)
    P.S Dad says I can only print some of his "Secrets".

    • Mom and Dad, thanks for taking the time to comment. I can’t tell you what it means to me. Mom, I am so glad you were there to say ‘good-bye’ with me and that we were then able to spend some wonderful mother/daughter time together.
      Mom and Dad, I’ve always known I was meant to be your daughter and to grow up with the family I have. I am truly blessed and my one hope, as a parent, is that I can be as loving and giving as both of you.
      Love yah lots,
      Kid

  25. Dara; I have been lingering or rather lurking about the edges of your post. Whispers and mentions about your story held be back. I was unsure. Unsure that I really could read your story. This may feel or sound rather strange coming from me but in our lives we all have those secrets – the ones we don’t tell. The ones we feel the most – the ones that have no words. Your story is as heartwarming as is your moms response to your words. Compelling and honest, it has left me shaken and having a hard time seeing. Understanding ones story and relating are many worlds apart. For me, both are the hard part.

    When I was just a baby of not more than a year and a half, my father told my mother that “The boy needs milk”. That was the last time I saw him. I was adopted at age four by my dad and I understand the meaning of being loved as I had a life experiencing just that but there is always that feeling as you have said. I did not really know for years about my real father but yet, it was there; you know. When my daughter ended up in trouble, we raised our grand daughter for three years. Her first son prior was painfully given up for adoption but he too went to a very loving and caring family who to this day we are able to follow and have the knowledge that he is doing well. He too is very much loved by his family – for that, I am forever grateful.

    So you see, not only can I relate, I understand. I think that the years can bury those little secrets and in doing so be unkind and unjust in their remiss. Your story had an impact on me I was not expecting – at least not one I was open to admit. To myself that is. Perhaps that is why I took so long to read it.

    Thank you for sharing your story. In those words – your words, I feel I have found a little piece of myself and brought home something that was missing. My heartfelt gratitude for your inspiration, your words and the courage to tell your story.

    Trip…

  26. Miss Dara, what an amazing woman you are!!! You were always a bright spot in my day during UWP as your spirit and personality made for fun and wild adventures. Every Christmas the recipe for Almond Roca by Dara Lee Geake comes out of the cupboard and gets a spot on every goodie tray that leaves “The Bent Spatula”, my approved kitchen here in South Dakota. I am so proud of you and will figure out how to get copies of your books for my personal collection so that one day I can tell my grandchildren about this amazing person I met and travelled with in 1990-91. You are forever in my heart!!!!

    • Ah Ms. Tracy Vaad! How wonderful that the almond roca recipe lives on, it is still my favorite Christmas treat! I suspect the ‘bright spot’ was only a reflection of you! Always smiling, always helping always ready for a crazy adventure! You are one of the people who truly helped me to cope that year, whether you knew it or not.

      From the bottom of my heart, Tracy, thank you, thank you, thank you. I feel blessed to know you and to have reconnected! I hope we’ll meet again one day!

      xo
      Dara-Lee

  27. Oh Trip! I don’t blame you for taking your time before reading the post when it is an issue so close to your own heart and experience. I’m glad you stopped by and I’m so glad you shared your story.
    Yes, you do get it and as much as I continue to second guess whether I did the right thing in revealing this secret, it’s wonderful to be able to share it with someone who’s had a common experience.

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