How Does It Feel To Be Adopted?- Mike H.

MikeH
My bride, Melissa & I. We will be married 29 years in July, 2016

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

BIO:

My name is Mike.  I live in southern Missouri.  I am a two-time adoptee.  My first adoption occurred in Canada, my birthplace, at age one.  The second adoption took place in North Dakota at age 13.  I have been married to my best friend for nearly 29 years.  We have two adult children and two beautiful Yorkie dogs.  I am a naturalized American citizen who has served in the U.S. Air Force on active duty.  We ride a motorcycle for fun and we travel when we can.  Should you have interest, you can read about my first 18 years by going to my blog at mikehayslip.blogspot.com.  It is a fascinating story to most.

Adoption Essay:

We are born.

We all come into the world as human — the product of the fertilization of egg by sperm.  In our mother’s bodies, we incubate for the better part of nine months until such a point where our natural development precipitates our entry into the wider world.

It is then that the clock starts ticking, and aging begins, and our experiences of life become our memories, or the memories of those around us.

Like our parents.

As an adopted child, my childhood history is well-documented.  For I was given up at birth by my biological mother — a young, unwed, woman who chose not to keep me back in the fall of 1969.  I would find my mother at age 21 and yet, by age 35, she would abandon me yet again.  This time however, her conscious choice to walk out of my life cut me deeply and became a wound for which is slow to heal.

I was not blessed to grow up in a safe, and nurturing adoptive home.  My childhood documents, and my memories, reflect this.  Years of physical and mental torture, combined with regular lack of feeding me in ways nourishing and emotional, are seared into my DNA.  Ultimately, the power of the state would bear down on my adoptive parents and they would be forced to sign me away.  Reality dictated they never wanted me to begin with and this was regularly made known to me during my first 10 years with this family.

In time, and after a succession of foster homes, and relocation to a Los Angeles area children’s home for two years, I would eventually be placed, at nearly age 13, with a never married single man — a Southern Baptist pastor — my second adoption.

I wish I could say it was better the second time around.  It was in many ways, and yet, his sexual abuse of me erased any gains I might have enjoyed during that time in my life.  The man who claimed he wanted to love me as his own, care for me in ways much better than I had experienced previously, and who gave me the moniker, “the chosen one,” was nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  I was not his first victim, nor his last.  I was his only legal child.  He failed, as those before him did, in being a parent to me.  I still maintain his surname even as he has not been in my life for nearly 20 years.

It is now spring 2016, and I am now over 46 years into my life.  My parents, biological and adoptive, are all gone, dead or otherwise.  Most of my foster parents have passed.  While my birth mother still lives, she lives not for me.  That ended in early 2004 with a letter sent to me in the mail.  She could not understand that I had learned to attach myself to those good people who crossed my path as a youngster — those with no blood ties to me, but who selflessly performed the role, in moments where our lives intersected, of parent — the parent we all yearn for.

My biological mother wanted to effectively discount those whom she would ultimately meet, as having more of a role shaping me as an adult, than she had.  Yet, she was not there for my first 21 years.  Surely she could see that surrogates would be forced to step in to do the job she chose not to do for me.

The guilt was strong with my birth mother and yet, she could never admit it.  I could see it though.  My wife could see it.  The guilt of seeing me in positive relationships with my former foster parents and social workers — even years after childhood — ate at her like a cancer all consuming, even as she regularly tried to hide it.  She could not handle the reminder of her decision, long ago, to give me up, and let me go.  She knew of the abusive homes I ended up in, and the families who failed me.  She knew of the molestation I had received at the hands of a single male foster parent with whom I had been placed briefly, a few years before my second adoption.  She knew so much of my history as, for 14 years in adulthood, we had a relationship.  A connection.  A bond.  We share the same blood, after all.

And, yet, in the end, she could not reconcile with all those people in my life — good and bad — so she did the only thing she knew to do, once again.  She abandoned me and walked away.  This time, forever.  No warning.  Only a letter. A letter, in large part, deflecting blame on to me — the son who could not fit the mold for which she had created in her mind.  For, at one time early into our reunion, she came angrily to me after witnessing an insignificant spat with my wife during a vacation and stated, matter if factly, “I may not have raised you, but I am still your mother and I can still tell you what to do.” 

It was the wrong message to send to a married man by that time.  But, I gave her a pass for I wanted so desperately to be her child, and her to be my mother — that mother I had so often yearned for as a child.

Her statement would also clue me in to the reality that the mother of my childhood dreams was a human being, full of judgment and pain and misguided attempts at forming a young man already formed.  Once I had found her, and we reunited, it was readily apparent that she wanted only me in her life and not those who were responsible for molding me into the person I had become.  She was neither thankful for the positives of those who had done good for me, or who had continued to care.  Even more, she hated with passion, those who had done me wrong, who abused me, or who stood by knowing I was being abused and looked the other way — chiefly, my first adoptive parents.

Ironically, through her hatred of those who had hurt me, she failed to see the root cause of that subsequent hurt — her singular choice in a hospital room, in a Canadian hospital, many decades past.  She made the choice to hand me over to a fate unknown.

Even more ironic, she chose, at my year 35, to do the one thing for which she knew could inflict more pain onto me — walking away for the second time.

Two years after her ‘Dear Mike’ letter, I tried to give her another chance to reconcile with me.  I was hoping that maybe, she had regretted her letter to me and she feared trying to reconcile on her own with me.  It seemed, to me, a plausible circumstance at that time.

I called her workplace.  She answered.  I know she was surprised, as I can imagine she never expected to hear from me after she had walked out of my life two years previously.  By this time, however,, I had earned three college degrees, to include two master’s degrees.  Time would add a third master’s degree.  I was also then a professional organizational manager, and doing well at my job.  I hoped my educational and professional successes would possibly be the catalyst to draw her back into my life for what mother wouldn’t be happy for the positive advancements of their children and want to know more?

In those two long and empty years, from 2004 to 2006, I thought about her often, almost as much as my first 21 years after she had given me up the first time.  I wondered more than anything else where I had gone wrong with the one person — my own mother — who should have had an innate sense to love her child even more than her child could love her.  On that particular day, shocked as she was to hear from me, she told me we could talk that evening after she returned home from work. I saw that as a good sign.

However, 30 minutes after my call to her, I received an e-mail from my mother saying she really had no interest in talking to me on the phone later that night and that I had caught her by surprise, forcing her to say such a thing.  She told me in typewritten text that, since her letter of two years previous (which wasn’t a goodbye letter, but more a demand letter) she had moved on and it was better that way.

I had to respond, but what could I say to the woman partially responsible for my being yet, who was rebuffing me once again?  I said the only thing that I could, just to ensure this was the official closing of the door between us.  I e-mailed her back and stated, simply, “If you do not want me in your life any longer, you will have to tell me so by responding to this e-mail.  You will have to tell me never to contact you again.”  The message was sent.

Within minutes, her reply:  “Do not contact me ever again.”  That was it.  It was cold, and without feeling.  Six words dripping with anxiety and sadness.  It cut, yet again.  I did not understand her position, nor her animosity.  My hopes for any reconciliation with a woman whom I had obviously cared more about than she did me, were dashed.  It was over.  The end.  It was basically an, I-do-not-want-you-in-my-life-anymore slap in the face.  Even more, it was a message to my wife, and my children — her grandchildren.  She was done with all of us.

I did not know my mother as a younger person, until age 21.  Before then, I envisioned a woman without a face — a woman who, I had convinced myself, loved me and wanted to save me from the Hell of my existence with my two adoptive families.  She never came during those years, however, and the thoughts of her faded over time.  Yet, time would eventually remind me of the mother I did not know and so I ventured to find her.  It did not take me long — less than two hours time, once I had the pieces in hand.

I cannot regret finding my biological mother as it solved a mystery for me.  I know the woman she was, is, and forever will be.  She is her husband’s wife, and mother to her two other sons.  She chose, twice+, not to be my mother even if I am her first born.  It hurts.  I cannot deny it.  Yet, regret for the search, there is none for me.

I would find my biological father 20 years after finding my biological mother, and soon after her second abandonment of me.  Yet, while my father and I would talk briefly on the telephone that first time, in 2004, we would not talk again, or even meet in person, until six years after my initial telephone call to him.  This wasn’t of his choosing, but his wife’s.  Only, when he called the second time, in 2010, he would be ripe with cancer throughout his body.  It was time for me to come and meet him, as it might be the only time, he would say.

We met for the first time in our lives, in 2010.  He knew nothing about my existence until that fateful call six years previous.  My biological mother had robbed him of any real relationship with his firstborn.  Yet, there we were, a child of 41, and a father knocking on the door of death.  How do you develop a lifelong relationship in such a short time?  As a person who has lived this question, I realized quickly that you cannot create a lifetime of memories in the span of hours over three partial days.

My biological father died in his bed, in his home, three days before his 65th birthday, and during my second visit in 2011.  I was out to dinner at the moment of his passing.  I arrived soon after to see a man laying in his bed — a man whom I had been talking to earlier that day — now a man without life emitting from one of his eyes frozen open in place.

In his death, and with his family, he had welcomed me.  They all treat me as part of them today and I am learning to know them, and excited at the prospect of what the future brings with my paternal line.

Yet, just across the river, a few short miles distance from my father’s side of the family, there is little to celebrate on my biological mother’s side these days.  She had told me, a decade ago, not to contact her ever again.  I have not.  I have limited contact with her older brother – my uncle – and yet, that is only at Christmas, or when I might be visiting Canada.  He is my only connection to my mother’s side of my family.  Yet, even he is getting up in age — in his 70s.  He knows little about the goings-on in my mother’s, his own sister’s, life these days for even he has been shut out of her life for no apparent reason.  Once my uncle passes on, it will be as though my maternal side is gone forever for there will be no more active bonds there.

The love of a mother is not absolute, at least in my case, with my adoptive mother, and my biological mother, no matter what the latter would tell me early on in our reunion.  I am hardly a bad person, only a person searching for answers.  My birth mother did not want me asking and she could not accept my past with those she gave me up to live with, even if she had no real part, or authority, in where I would end up, nor whom I would be raised by.

I was the product of an alleged “date rape” and yet I know this to be far from the truth.  My mother could sense I knew the truth and she chose to run and blame rather than admit her culpability.  I would have accepted her apology if she chose to make one, for that is what close family does.  Yet, it now occurs to me that, while she claimed to want me close, she often acted in ways which ultimately distanced us as mother and son.  Her pride, and her failures, stood in the way of her being the mother I needed.  She was only the mother who had not raised me but “could still tell” me “what to do.”

I can easily discount the first instance of walking away since she was young, and unmarried, and hardly prepared to raise a child then.  I’ve convinced myself she had to make a cognitive choice to give me up to be raised by a good set of parents who could do so much more for me, even if that is not what I ended up with.

But, to abandon me a second time, as a 35-year-old adult (then), and without real cause, is something that is very hard for me to accept.  For the first might have been a choice made from necessity, but the second was a choice coming from an entirely different place.  It was a conscious choice that told me clearly that I was not good enough for her.  I would not be her child for she had not been able to mold me from the beginning, and especially not as an adult, even though she often tried.

So, I found both of my biological parents.  It ended with a bittersweet taste for me.  Years lost and few memories, on all sides.  I grew up with an adoptive mother, who didn’t want to be a mother to me, and she made that very clear with the beatings, burning, and lack of feeding me, among so many other horrible things.  Her own husband, my first adoptive father, the doctor, failed me too many times.  I later gained an adoptive father who wanted me — at least that is what he claimed to those with the power to honor his request for my permanent placement with him.  Yet, his “want” was of the perverse variety, and I was just adopted to fill an urge deep within his twisted libido.  I chased hope for years until hope brought me to my real mother.  Even then, it was not meant to be.  The mothers and fathers of my childhood were selfish.  They ultimately cared more about themselves, and others, than any of them cared about me.  It is true, and it is documented.  Considering they all were either forced to relinquish me, or chose to do so voluntarily, has borne out this sad fact.

Yet, in the end, I have been happily married for nearly 29 years to my first, and only, girlfriend.  We have two adult children.  Yet, with these blessings, time can often bring me back to those who came before.  Which reminds me that the defects of humans continue to cause pain.

It might be the slowest death possible.

Mike H.
Adult Adoptee
Missouri, USA
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4 thoughts on “How Does It Feel To Be Adopted?- Mike H.

  1. Thank you Mike, for sharing your story.
    Your path of reunion and second rejection almost mirrors my husbands (born in 1966 in Sydney, Australia) although ours took place when he was 46 and only lasted three and a half years.
    We are yet to find his father, having also been told a story of rape.
    I also feel that she took intense umbrage to my presence in his life, a marriage of now 28 years, also with two adult sons and I became the scapegoat for all that went wrong, blamed from beginning to end.
    We are now undergoing therapy with the Benevolent Society, people who work with those affected by the years of forced adoption in Australia, our therapist being an adoptee herself.
    I feel that it is helping.
    We remain in email contact with my husband’s aunt and two uncles, who have also been shut out of his mother’s life, likely because they know her real story.
    My husband’s fear now, is that his father could die before we find him as he would also be between 65-75. We just don’t know any way to find him.
    Thank you again Mike, knowing that you have survived this ordeal and experience brings some comfort to those who are also living with this primal wound and trying desperately to heal.
    Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Christine. I am sorry it did not work out for your husband and his birth mother. It does hurt and yet, I’ve come to the conclusion that some people just cannot be mother’s to those they gave away, long ago. My wife and I feel that generation (my mother’s) is problematic, unforgiving, and rigid. We know a good number of people from that generation and many of them are like this. We do not understand this mentality. I hope your husband finds his bio-father in good time. It was almost too late for me, but I am glad I finally was able to meet him before he died. It was the remaining piece of my puzzle, put in place after 41 years.

    Peace to you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A hard story to read and, I know, much harder to have lived. I’m glad that you seem to have a handle on the fact that you were not at fault for any of the behaviors and shortcomings of these flawed adults in your life.
    I believe having a good marriage and parenting your own children well has gone a long way towards helping you heal. Congratulations! I, for one, am proud of you. I’m sorry others have let you down.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mike I so understand your pain and predicament. I too had a bio-mother who when we met, was unwilling to give me the answers to my questions about my coming into being. She then went on to do exactly what was done to you, keep on repeating the rejecting behaviour. Oh how it hurts doesn’t it? She died several years ago, and only then did I begin to understand the web that she had woven, and how her behaviour was a reflection of that. So pleased that you have a good woman in your wife, and 2 great children. Blessings Joy

    Liked by 1 person

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