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Who am I really?

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I knew it when I was 5 years old. I knew I didn’t come from them, but I knew they loved me like their own. But it doesn’t make it all ok. It doesn’t make you feel wanted or not thrown away. Something I have come to realize has haunted me my whole life.

Do not get me wrong, I am thankful for the parents I was given too. The people who took me in and cared for and loved me the best they could. They never made me feel any less than the children they bore from themselves. But it is still there, in the back of your mind, someone got rid of you. I get it, it probably wasn’t easy for her to give me away, but none the less, she did. She walked away from me, left me, cut the ties that had bound us for the last nine months. She pushed me out of the home I had known, the warmth of her insides, the sound of her heart and the whispers of her voice. It was gone, just like that. And I resent her for it.

I was the product of two peoples indiscretions. A pregnant 43 year old, unmarried Mother of 4 and a 46 year old married Father of 2, he and his wife were well known in the community. She hid me, she told no one I was coming, not even him. And just like when she had me, she picked up and left when she found out she was pregnant, simply vanishing, without a trace.

Down the road I found out who they were. I went to great lengths to get in touch with both of them, a story I will save for another time. I spoke to each of them. If you remember, he didn’t even know I existed, until I told him. I was pregnant at the time and had dealt with some health issues Doctors were encouraging me to find any information that I could on. I was thankful to speak to them and get the little tidbits from them that I could. She let me know I had 3 siblings, but told me they were not living. He let me know I had 2 siblings but gave no details.  And yes, I realize, they are my “birth” parents and my “half” siblings. But the way I see it, they are my blood. They are who I came from and who I am a part of. I never heard from either of them again.

My whole life I had secretly wondered who they were. What did they look like? Did I look like them? Years have passed and my child is grown. But the urge to know has always remained. You see when you are an adoptee, you always wonder. You always want to know if anyone thinks about you. Is anyone curious what I turned out to be? Don’t you want to know if I gave you a grandson or a granddaughter? Don’t you remember when we talked I told you I was pregnant? And adoption or not, that is what my son is, your grandchild. Adoption or not, I am your daughter! Yet again, you turned your back on me. You abandoned me.

Some 25 years later, I go on the hunt again. Thank goodness for social media and the internet. I delve deep into the records of Ancestory.com and other informational pages. I gathered details of who I believed to be my uncles and cousins from her side and I reached out. I sent messages online and wrote letters that I mailed. And then I got the call, from my sister. You know, the one my Mother had led me to believe was not living. Turns out I actually had 4 siblings and all of them had been living at the time she and I spoke. Sadly, 3 have passed since then. I will never know them.  And there I was, yet again, telling someone else of my unknown existence. We compared the details I had, to the life she had known. And a lot of it fit. A lot of it made total sense and seemed to confirm what it was I was telling her. Understandably, I have met with reluctance on her part. Our Mother passed away less than 2 years ago leaving us with nothing to confirm or deny the details of the scenario I was laying before her.

I knew names and some details of my birth father and his sons. I had details I had gathered online and records confirming them. I believed my Father had passed away some 20 years before and knew that one brother lived less than an hour away while the other resided on the east coast. But knowing I did not want to experience (what feels like) rejection again, I decided to have my DNA tested to see if there was “anyone out there” from the “other side”. And then it came, the email saying my results were in. I opened it and there it was, confirmation of who I had thought one of my brothers to be. Other than the birth of my son, never before had I felt like there was someone out there I could definitely say I was a part of….until now. And no, we have not gone off into the sunset and lived happily ever after as a new found family. If only it were that simple. If only I had never started my search……

 

 

 

 

Dear National Adoption Awareness Month….

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November is National Adoption Awareness Month. It is a time in which most people promote adoption and look to praise adoptive parents as they overshare the private stories of their adopted children. 

In recent years adopted people have worked hard to reclaim NAAM and redirect the focus onto adopted people. The battle has been and continues to be an uphill one. 

Adopted adults are infantilized, spoken for, minimized and labeled as angry when telling their own stories.  

Oddly enough, adoptive parents of young children are often the greatest critics of adopted adults. Wouldn’t it make sense for them to be our biggest supporters? After all, the young children of adoptive parents do, in fact, grow up to be adopted adults. Most adult adoptees who talk openly about living adopted in books, blogs, movies, podcasts, plays, and other art forms do so with intent to educate non adopted people and create more understanding for young adoptees. That their parents are frequently so defensive and aggressive, dismissive and silencing to adult adoptees is shocking. 

Unfortunately, these comments are a sampling of what we frequently hear in response to a shared adoptee experience:

“My children don’t feel that way.” 

“I’m sorry you had a bad experiences, but…”

“My kids don’t want to meet their bio family.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“My children would be dead if I hadn’t adopted them.”

“We gave our kids better lives.”

“You should get over it and just be grateful.”

Every one of the above comments was copy and pasted from other Dear Adoption, posts. I just want to clear something up a couple things in response to a few of the statements above: I never told my parents how I really felt about adoption and still have a hard time as an adult and father, myself. I told my everyone I never wanted to find my original family while constantly hoping I could find them. I didn’t have “a bad experience”; adoption is a really hard thing for a human to deal with. 

Dear Adoption, Dear NAAM 

We will not quiet ourselves. 

We will not stop sharing. 

We will not lie for your comfort. 

We will share openly, painfully, boldly (even if we must do so anonymously).

We will speak through our tears. 

We will relive the trauma of adoption every time it comes up. 

We will not be dismissed. 

We will fight for adoptee rights. 

We will tell the truth. 

We will do these things so that all adoptees can benefit and be better heard. 

#nationaladoptionawarenessmonth

 

This piece was submitted anonymously.

By Dear Adoption, Contributor

Dear Adoption, I’m Done Telling Your Story —

Dear Adoption, I’m Done Telling Your Story For 30 years I told your story about my life. I said all the right words. I told them how you saved me, how you gave me a better life. I told them you were the best thing to ever happen to me, that you made the difference in […]

via Dear Adoption, I’m Done Telling Your Story —

Dear Adoption, I Hate You —

 

Dear Adoption, I Hate You I hate that my mom gave me away to strangers. I hate that I have always wondered who she is, what she looks like, how her voice sounds, if she ever thinks about me. I hate that my adoptive parents love adoption so much because it gave them me. I […]

via Dear Adoption, I Hate You —

Dear Adoption, I’m Keeping a Secret —

Dear Adoption, I’m Keeping a Secret I’ve kept this secret from everyone. I’ve kept this secret for my entire life. I’ve kept this secret and it’s scary to say out loud. I’m lonely. I recently asked adopted people: “What’s one thing you’ve never told anyone about what it’s like to be adopted?” I asked […]

via Dear Adoption, I’m Keeping a Secret  —

So now what?

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I got the opportunity to meet my half sister in person. My son and I traveled to Colorado and met her at the halfway point from where she was vacationing. I am glad we were given the opportunity, I am just not sure how I feel about it?

I guess I had conjured up some lifetime movie moment where there would be an instant feeling of connection, hugs, tears, stories shared and memories made. It didn’t go anything like that though? It didn’t go bad, it just wasn’t what I had it cracked up to be. I did not leave there thinking to myself I wonder when I will see her again and I didn’t leave there thinking to myself I hope I never see her again either. I really left there feeling nothing?

I have just wanted all of my life to feel like I was connected to someone or “belonged” and thought that meeting her would give me that sense, but it didn’t. I don’t know, maybe it’s because all of my life I have wanted to feel what it would be like to be face to face with my birth mother or father, and that will never happen because they are both gone. I guess I feel let down maybe?

I was hopeful I would lay eyes on her and instantly feel like I knew where I came from. Yet, I saw no resemblance. I wanted to experience that “bond” people talk about with their siblings, I got nothing. I do realize things take time, but I think I am so guarded and have built such a protective wall for no one to get in because of my fear of abandonment, I have made it to where I am not able to get out either.

I have written before that she is not willing to tell my remaining family about me because of her concerns that our uncle will pass judgement on our mother for having had me. She did not tell me stories about family members or say to me you sure do remind me of “so and so”. She gave me nothing! She gave me no feeling of open arms or welcome to the family. She even let me know she had not told her partner (who does not believe we are half-siblings or the DNA test that confirmed it) that she was driving to meet me. And if you will remember, I have also found my two half-brothers from my father, (or at least the wife of one, which I believe has hidden my existence from them even though she says she hasn’t) and have had no response from either of them.

I guess through all of this, I have actually just compounded the rejection and abandonment issues I have felt and tried to deal with all of my life. I have actually made it worse on myself because now all I am left to wonder is … so now what?

What would you have done with me?

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If you had known about me, what would you have done with me? Would you have fought for me? Would you have wanted to let me go? Would you have wanted to hold me, even if just once before they took me away? All questions I ask my birth father in my mind.

He did not know about me, he was never given a chance to say “I will take her”. What if he would have wanted me? What if he would have had the chance to be a part of the decision to keep me or toss me away? I will always wonder what he would have done with me. I was his only girl, his one and only daughter. Would he have thought that was special? Would I have been his little princess? He wasn’t given a chance, and neither was I.

I can not stress enough how thankful I am for my adoptive parents, that’s not what this is about. But I will forever wonder what a natural, biological relationship would have been like with my birth parents, siblings, aunts/uncles and grandparents.

My birth father passed away several years ago. I never got to tell him he had a grandson. He never got to meet him, or hear him call him Papa. I never got to hug him. He never had a chance to see if I had his eyes. I will forever wonder what he smelled like, does my son have his laugh, do I have his smile. I will never have any of that. It was a right taken from us both. Someone else made that decision, she thought she was doing what was best I am sure. Doesn’t make it any easier though. I can never imagine not letting my son’s father know about him. I can never imagine taking away their right to a natural bond with one another.

I guess I am angry at her. I just don’t understand why she didn’t give us a chance to know each other, had that been what he wanted. I feel bad for him, I feel bad for me. There was a time when I had no desire to know about him when I found out the circumstances behind my being. I did not like knowing he was (at least how I perceived him to be) a cheater. He wasn’t someone I wanted anything to do with, we obviously had different values. I now realize, that is not mine to be angry with him about, he did nothing to me. I will never know the circumstances behind his situation at the time of my conception. All I know is, we never had a chance.

So for now, in my version of the story, we would have had a happy ending. He would have wanted to see me grow up, been a part of my life decisions. He would have been at my wedding, he would have consoled me when I divorced. He would have gleamed with pride at his grandsons first day of kindergarten, he would have shown his picture off whenever he had the chance. So for now, in my version of the story, I believe he would have been glad to have me, if he had just been given the chance.

 

Fine, don’t talk to me…

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I guess I had this crazy vision of how things were going to go when I found my birth families, was I ever wrong! And to start this off right, I do realize that they are my “birth-parents” and we are only “half-siblings”, but that is a lot of typing to have to do, so I am just going to call it like I see it.  They are my mother, father, brothers and sister, even if they wished they weren’t!

I explained before that both of my parents have passed away and through a lot of searching and DNA testing, I have found my sister, from my mother’s side, and 2 brothers, from my father’s side. My sister has been fairly open to talking to me. Although in the beginning, in our very first conversation, she asked me if I was going to sue her? For what, what would I sue her for? She also refuses to ask our uncle any questions that would involve the timeline of our mother’s pregnancy with me. She says “I would not want him to think poorly of my mom for having had you”. Way to make me feel special there sis! But she is still willing to communicate with me when I reach out to her.

And then there are my brothers. I haven’t spoken to either of them, they won’t talk to  me. I have only spoken to my one brothers wife through emails. She claims he reads my messages that I send and that he is “right by her side” each time she responds to me. Says she forwards my messages to my other brother as well. Tells me it is going to take time for them, that I have to realize the images they had of their father, who attended mass everyday, have been distorted drastically. I get it, I would be surprised too if I found out my father had been unfaithful to my mother, but don’t look at me as though I am the one who did it.

I don’t know, I guess I just can’t imagine not wanting to get to know one another? I mean I do not understand how there is no interest in who I am? What my life is like? Am I married, how many children do I have etc..  I want to know all of that about each of them. I want to see photos of them growing up, I want to see what their children, my nephews, look like! I want to know if we like any of the same things, have the same allergies, maybe we have the same smiles? Why don’t they want to know any of that?

Yes, I feel rejected and hurt. I just don’t understand is all. I give up on the hopes of “one day” after I have “given them their time”. Believe me, I wish I could take it all back, for all our sakes. I wish I had never found them, I wish I had never reached out. And in an attempt to make myself feel better, how’s this for some defensive self-preservation talk…  “It’s their loss if they don’t want to know me” or “Fine, don’t talk to me……I don’t want to talk to you either”. I just never would have thought it would hurt worse to have found them, than to have never known anything about them.