RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
With Mother's Day in mind, we turn now to a mother and her daughter for StoryCorps. This is the project that's been traveling the country and recording conversations between loved ones. Sue Adam and Deborah Dimasi actually met for the first time 12 years ago. Sue decided to place Deborah for adoption at birth, and the two sat down at StoryCorps to talk about it.
Ms. DEBORAH DIMASI: When did you decide to give me up for adoption?
Ms. SUE ADAM: Well, I was in my final year of university, and I wasn't in a serious relationship with anyone. It was kind of a fluke. You know, they say it only takes once, and it turned out to be true. And it was probably the loneliest time of my entire life.
When I was in the hospital, I was there for hours by myself. And then they took you away, and they wouldn't allow me to see you. But one of the nurses took pity on me and brought you into my room, in the middle of the night one night, so that I could count fingers and toes.
But then the other practice was that, in the case of adoption, I had to actually carry you out of the hospital and hand you to the doctor physically. That was supposed to be an indication of my willingness to give up the child, and that was hard.
Ms. DIMASI: I want you to know that I never was angry. I never resented your decision; I never had reason to. I knew that I was adopted, and my parents always made it a positive part of my life — that they picked me, that they really wanted me. And I just remember your being a question mark. That part of who I was, was just a question mark.
And I got to a point in my early 20s when I was just so curious and I asked my parents if they had, you know, any legal papers or hospital papers. And my father took me upstairs and gave me a pile of papers, and that's when I discovered the hospital bill that had your name on it.
On all the other papers, your name was blacked out with a Magic Marker. But there was this one for, like, aspirin. It was the most inconsequential bill, but there was your name, and it was the first moment that you as a person were concrete to me, and it knocked me down.
Ms. Adam: I remember that first phone call that we had. You had left me a message so I had your voice on my machine, and I kept listening to it over and over and over again 'cause it just had never crossed my mind that I would ever hear your voice. I think it was at least midnight by the time I called you, maybe later, and we talked for two or three hours. It just seemed so easy. We haven't shut up much since.
Ms. DIMASI: No.
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Ms. DIMASI: It's true. When I describe our relationship to people, I say that you're more like a mentor than a mother. You're a person that I turn to for advice, and someone that I enjoy talking to about all the things that I'm passionate about.
Ms. ADAM: I'm really grateful.
Ms. DIMASI: I love you.
Ms. ADAM: I love you, too.
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MONTAGNE: Sue Adam with her daughter Deborah Dimasi at StoryCorps in New York. Today, Deborah works in development for StoryCorps. Their conversation will be archived, along with all the project's interviews, at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. Subscribe to the podcast at NPR.org.
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MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.