For me to answer this, “How does it feel to be adopted?” is a loaded question.
Growing up, the topic of my adoption was a closed subject. My adoption was not talked about. I do, however, have a distant first memory of me talking about my adoption with my mom. I remember my mom tucking me into bed one night and mentioning that she was glad that I was part of their family now. “Your parents could not look after you. Your parents asked us if we would take you. We love having you as our little girl.”
I wondered why my parents could not look after me.
I wondered who my parents were.
I asked mom once. Her answer was that it wasn’t anything for me to worry about and that this wasn’t something we should talk about with outsiders.
Over the years, I wondered and pined over why my parents could not look after me and where my parents were. The questions, unanswered, left me with a hole in my heart. In that hole, sadness grew. I wondered where I fit in. I became anxious when I thought I was being abandoned by people. I began to question people if they let me down. I struggled with trust issues.
During different times in my life, I did not think that I belonged in my family. People tried to reassure me that I did. One lady pointed out to me that I looked like my cousin. In glancing over at my cousin, I could see the resemblance. A friend of mine tried to convince me that I did belong in my family too. I pushed these words aside each time. Life went on. I suffered from depression and bouts of anger. No one seemed to know how to help me. The “missing piece” haunted me. I wondered if I would ever find out the answers to my questions.
At age 28, my adopted dad passed away suddenly. It was another loss that threw me for a loop and again made me wonder about my birth parents.
Life continued on and a while later, I met Maurice, who later became my husband. We dated for two years and got engaged at Christmas. We married a year after that.
A month before our wedding, mom and I were looking for my Savings Bond at the bank and we came upon my adoption papers. I opened them with mom watching me. As I read through them, I came upon a name that I didn’t recognize: Linda Marie Lunn. “Who is Linda Marie?” I asked. “Margaret,” answered my mom quietly, “That is the name your mother gave you at birth. I am not at liberty to give you any more information.” I thought to myself, “that is odd! Why can mom not tell me about my birth parents? After all, I am 30 years old!” My wedding day was coming up soon, so I let the matter go, but I was very hurt that mom would not give me any more information.
I mentioned to one of my bridesmaids about my discovery of my birth name. She suggested that I contact Toronto Social Services to get more information. I did contact them. I received forms, which I filled in and returned, then waited for a reply. I also sent an inquiry to the Children’s Aid in Cobourg.
My hurt turned into uncontrolled anger, which I took out on my husband and friends, even throwing dishes and food in my rage. I wanted mom to give me the answers about my adoption so I could fill in the missing piece.
Two years later, I received a registered letter from Cobourg Children’s Aid. Once more, when I opened the letter, I was disappointed. The names of my birth parents were missing. I was counselled by a Cobourg Social Worker, who explained that my adoption was a private one. My parents were probably someone I already knew. The Social Worker encouraged me to try and ask my mom about my birth parents again. I would probably have to wait a long time to get any information from Toronto. The thought of asking my mom again was the furthest thing from my mind. Mom had said no the first time I asked. At 32, I was still too afraid to challenge her authority.
Finally I decided if I wanted the information, I would have to set aside my fears. I prepared to ask mom about my birth parents once again. I prayed about how to ask and when to ask my mom about my birth parents.
I decided to ask mom when we went down to celebrate Christmas and our wedding anniversary. We ended up going down early for Christmas to help my mom as she had broken her ankle.
On our second anniversary, I brought out the family photo albums, so that I could ask about my birth parents. As we poured over the albums together, I mustered up the courage and prayed for the right timing about asking mom about my birth parents.
“ Mom, ” I asked gingerly, “could you please tell me how I came to be Margaret?” “Margaret!” Mom said with exasperation, “I have already told you about your birth parents!” I tried to ask another question, but mom shut me down. “This is enough questions! I am tired and it is time to soak my foot.” she said, leaving the room. However, I kept persisting with my questions. Finally, my mom grew weary of my constant asking and said,”I have told your sister and she can tell you after I am gone!”
I had been put off by my mom too often and I blew up! I yelled at her, saying,”that is not fair! How can you tell my sister and not tell me! All the hurt and anger came roaring out. I even suggested that she loved my sister more than she loved me. Up until now I had always been hushed when I was angry, but not this time!
The next few moments that passed seemed like hours. The tension in the air was like a thick, heavy cloud. I feared whether mom and I would ever be close again after this blow up. Mom came and stood in the doorway and said,”Margaret, you might think differently of your parents if I tell you.” “No, I won’t, mom. I need to know. Please tell me.” After another few moments of silence, my mom finally said matter of factly, “it is J. and H.”
J. and H. were my dad’s brother and his wife.
The story went that my birth parents were struggling financially and my mother’s nerves were not good. They were not married but engaged to be married. My birth mom was trying to hunt down her abusive first husband to file divorce papers. My birth mother’s father, my grandfather, was going to adopt me but at the last minute, changed his mind. My birth father thought of his brother Clifford and asked if they would adopt me. A few days later, I was brought to live with my aunt and uncle, my adoptive parents. Not one person in the extended family knew about my adoption as my birth was kept hushed.
It hurts that people allowed pride to get in the way about my birth and beginnings. It hurts that the whole family kept the secret from me until I was 32 years old. It hurts that my birth parents kept my brother and sister but gave me away. It hurts that my birth mom would not tell my siblings about me.
Years later, I know that this is all behind me and for the most part, I have worked through my grief and anger.
I finish by saying that you can hide the truth and try to keep it hidden, but eventually, the truth will ALWAYS come out.
This is my story about how I feel about being adopted. I hope it helps others to know it’s OK to speak out about your feelings. I hope that it brings some understanding and awareness to people who have no experience with the effects of adoption. Most of all, I hope it brings an end to the shame associated with adoption.