First Lilac Club

Judith Land | Adoption Detective

“Girl with Lilacs” by Sophie Anderson

Judith Romano

On a warm spring afternoon, Judy crawled beneath the overhanging branches of the lilac bushes in her backyard. She watched in awe as a butterfly in unfurling glory, highlighted by an intense ray of diffused sunshine, slowly dried its large, brightly colored wings. It was the perfect sanctuary and idyllic location for meeting with her girlfriends. The air under the lilac bush was warm and fragrant. Rays of sunlight penetrated the branches, creating an ephemeral mosaic of light and dark shapes that danced across their faces. The scent of lilac flowers and rays of sunlight dispersing through the green leaves above them permeated the atmosphere. The buzz of honeybees, incessant chirping of robins, and freshly mowed grass, combined with the ambient smell of lilacs in full bloom, was an ideal setting for intimacy, sharing of secrets, and lifelong memories memorialized as the “First Lilac Club”.

“I cleared a little space under the lilac bush and rolled five large stumps into a circle; the proximity of the seating arrangement facilitated intimacy, whispering and the sharing of secrets. Only then did I disclose to my best girlfriends that I was adopted,” Judith Romano, Age 8.


First Lilac Clubhouse | Judith Land | Adoption Detective

“First Lilac Club” was founded in a secret location hidden under the lilac bushes in Judith Romano’s backyard. Syringa vulgaris is a large deciduous shrub or multi stemmed small tree introduced into European gardens at the end of the sixteenth century. Common lilac flowers profusely. It is a very popular ornamental plant in gardens and parks because of its attractive, sweet-smelling flowers, which appear in early summer just before many of the roses and other summer flowers come into bloom.

The First Lilac Clubhouse

The First Lilac Club was an exclusive group of friends who trusted each other with their most embarrassing moments and deepest secrets. It was an instant success because it encouraged camaraderie, sisterhood, and bonding between members. The girls became very comfortable sharing secrets with each other. Judith’s adoption became a favorite reoccurring topic that alerted Judy to the possibility of becoming an “adoption detective” when she grew up so she could solve the mystery of her own adoption. “Time of the Lilacs” was selected as the motto for the club because she was born in April and spring was her favorite time of the year. The girls loved their secret hiding place and the experience was enhanced even more whenever Judith provided warm cookies and milk. They had great fun gossiping about the boys in the neighborhood, laughing, and telling stories about their parents. Judy listened intently because their remarks were often candid and highly revealing. (Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child, p. 75)



Judith Land | First Lilac Club

The First Initiation Ceremony

Judith choreographed a short ceremony whereby each member promised to keep the location of the club hidden, and protect the privacy of its members. To commemorate its founding, the girls arranged a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers in a wicker basket as a symbol of their unity. A brightly colored butterfly on its first conspicuous, fluttering flight landed softly on the handle, and slowly fanned its wings as a symbol of joy, wonder, and transformation. After they agreed to the ideals of the club, Judith presented each girl with a single lilac flower as a symbol of their sisterhood and enduring friendship.




First Lilac Club | Judith Land | Adoption Detective

Sororities, service clubs, libraries, book clubs and church groups provide excellent audiences for presenting new ideas, book readings, author presentations, and public discussion of relevant social issues, including children and adoption issues.

FLC – The Organization

On her eighth birthday—the day she was told she was adopted—Judith Romano and four of her closest girlfriends from Saint Albert Parish School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin established the First Lilac Club. This initial circle of kindred spirits, bonded by their enthusiasm and sisterhood as a source of encouragement to maximize individual potential, founded “FLC” on April 28, 1948 as a secret childhood organization. The mission statement is to enhance the social, cultural, and civic enrichment of its members through the promotion of eternal friendships, positive outcomes and learning. The four cornerstones of the organization are to perpetuate warm lasting friendships for all eternity; focus on the future and positive outcomes; motivate children who are orphaned, fostered, and adopted to achieve their highest aspirations; and promote education through scholarships and awards. The purpose of membership is to support orphanages, foster children, adoptees and adoption charities.