How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Raymond

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ADOPTEES STORY CONNECT – Raymond

BIO:   I was born in Canada.  I am a high school teacher and a classical musician (organ).  I taught in a high violence school in the Bronx and loved every minute of it. After a few years, I entered the international school system and taught in two foreign countries. I currently live in Europe where I continue to teach and play weekly.

 

Facts of birth

Adopted children often lack any reliable information regarding their origins.  Late adoptees (those adopted later than 2 years after birth) often know nothing about the early years between their birth and their adoption. I only know that I was born on August 6, 1967 in the Grace Maternity Ward in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  I was adopted around age 4 by a British couple who after serving in WW II, came to Canada with 3 biological children of their own.  At the time of my adoption these biological children were adults and parents themselves. I was adopted with another boy and several years later this couple adopted a third child.

 

To this day I struggle to comprehend why this adoption was ever allowed to occur:  (1) at the time of my adoption, this couple already had 3 children and 6 grandchildren of their own, (2) they were of advanced age – he was born in 1918 and she was born in 1926. This means, when I graduated from high school a month before my 18th birthday, he was 67, (3) they flew from the Canadian west coast (British Columbia) to the east coast (Nova Scotia) – what agency was going to monitor this contrived family or be prepared to make an intervention if necessary? And, most importantly, (4) we were black children.

 

Childhood

My first years with this couple in British Columbia had some good moments but the negative ones far outweighed the good.  For example, around age 5 I had bleeding gums and severe nosebleeds regularly.  The nosebleeds would start for no reason and I would bleed so much dark red blood that I had to bleed into a pail.  I was never taken to a doctor for this, yet I was taken to the doctor for a skin rash on my fingers! Another vivid memory is that of our adopted mother teaching us to play the piano. She would stand over us with a bamboo ski pole and thwack us with the pole every time we made a mistake.   Violence was her answer to almost anything she did not like about us and physical abuse was not limited to playing the piano.  I hated pain and so I learned very quickly, never ever answer back, never register dismay or disappointment, don’t even ask questions.   One has to wonder, is this why she adopted children?

 

After my adopted father had open heart surgery in the late 70’s, it was decided that a warmer climate would benefit him.  This resulted in him taking early retirement and all of us moving to the sunny Okanagan Valley.  Neither of my adopted parents told us we were moving until two days before the moving vans pulled up the driveway.  Throughout the next 12 years, a pattern of making decisions without including or informing us became the norm.  We were meant to be seen and not heard.   It soon became clear that they did not even consider the three of us to be part of their family.

 

Move to the Okanagan and high school

Our adopted parents bought a very small house which sat on 1 square acre of land, all of which was lawn and pine trees.  From age 1I – 17, my brothers and I spent every single spring and summer weekend mowing all that lawn (with push mowers) and raking every pine needle in the fall.  Our teenage years were not spent with other kids our age, these years were spent either in school, working in orchards (I began at age 11), or mowing all that grass.  Imagine my deep satisfaction when they had to sell the property after we three boys finished high school and left.  They no longer had us to work their yard.  They were now forced to move into housing for seniors.

 

During our high school years we were expected to continue our piano studies. Our teacher, who originally lived just down the road, eventually moved 1 hr. away.  Rather than traveling to the city along the highway, our adopted mother took a much longer back road because it was full of peaks and valleys.  This meant that at the top of each hill she could put the car in first gear, turn off the ignition, and coast down the hill in order to avoid ‘wasting’ gas.  This type of conflict would become a feature of living with her. In this case, she demanded that we continue piano lessons, yet took extreme measures to avoid ‘wasting’ gas in order for us to do something she forced us to do.  She also wanted us to play sports, but our adopted father would throw a fit because sports practice often conflicted with the dinner hour.  Once again, he was unwilling to accept what was necessary in order for us to do what we had been ordered to do.

 

My adopted parents’ son got a girl pregnant during his high school years.  They got married and their son was only 6 months younger than myself.  Because of this teenage pregnancy, both of our adopted parents decided that they had to keep an iron grip on their three adopted boys and keep us away from females.  Imagine my shock when 15 years later, one of their daughters told me that my adopted father divorced his first wife and then took up with my adopted mother and they had their three children out of wedlock – he was even forced to take her surname when they eventually married. The worst thing the three of us could ever do was to be caught talking to a girl or even attempt to have a girlfriend.

 

Both adopted parents had two separate personalities: one for their biological family and another for the three of us. They harboured so much anger toward us. Right up until the evening before I left home to go to university neither I nor my adopted brothers were  allowed to talk at the dinner table,   yet when their family (biological children and grandchildren who were the same age as us) visited, they talked like a normal family, as we three adopted children had to remain silent.  I remember so many meals as the time where we received our daily berating being told how ‘stupid’ we were and how ‘we did not deserve anything.’ We were never allowed to learn to drive. I was not allowed to sleep with a pillow until age 16. We were never allowed to date as long as we lived in that house. We were never allowed to drink tea or coffee, yet their grandchildren were. When asked to lead school projects, they would sit at the table and ask: “why do you have to do it.  Let someone else do it.”  They wanted to keep us small.  If I dared to come home with a debating medal, and I brought home many, there would be plenty of anger directed right at me.  My adopted father would often say to me, “I sometimes wonder if you deserve anything.”   We were rarely allowed to bring friends home or do anything with friends.  If we even asked, she would say, “they don’t want you there.”

 

I had to ask myself if this couple were secretly racist people. We never interacted with anything or anyone who was black, we were not allowed to listen to black music, and never told how to navigate issues that black persons deal with every day. They forbid us to go in the corner store in our small town, she called up the store owner and told him.  I thought, wow segregation was outlawed long ago, but these two people adopt three black children and go out of their way to segregate them.  She often threatened to take us out of school and make us find a job.  This was in the 1980’s and she thought that because neither of them had completed high school, we shouldn’t either.   I could often lay awake at night and listen to them talking about us, to their biological adult children, behind our backs. They also felt that it was acceptable to berate us in front of their biological family.  Is this why they adopted black children?

 

We never received any money from them. They felt that they should not have to spend money on us. I had to pay for my piano lessons, clothes, summer school, and university. Yet, they had plenty of money for their own family.  Luckily I was able to make good money working in various orchards before and after school.  When my youngest brother needed braces and my older brother needed glasses, they were shamed for needing these things, yet both adoptive parents wore glasses and he had dentures! Is this why somebody adopts children?

 

Both of them came from a time when most did not complete high school.  In my senior year, my adopted father spent many evenings at the dinner table, at which we were silent, berating the whole idea of graduation and the various events a senior class holds during their final year. I only attended one of those events, and skipped the parent’s dinner because I wasn’t going to ask them, and I didn’t have any desire to introduce them to anyone.   When I did graduate, they actually bought me a gift, which I accepted with an air of ambivalence. I could only wonder what they expected me to do when they had spent the entire year demeaning the concept of graduation.  Sadly, my older adopted brother dropped out of school in Gr. 11 – and that was perfectly fine with them.

 

Off to University

During grade 11, I began researching and applying for universities.  Neither of my adopted parents showed any interest. Instead, they would sit at the dinner table and ask me if I thought I was good enough to get into university.  During my senior year I also competed in a competition to become a Page in the Canadian House of Commons and was chosen as one of 40 students from across the country to do this while attending university in Ottawa.  Not one word from either parent. When it was time to start packing to leave home, not once did either of them assist or offer suggestions on how to pack. They did not give me one single cent, I was financially on my own.  I was flying from the west coast to the centre of the country and they offered not one word of anything.  The Saturday morning I left home, my adopted mother nonchalantly said she was not coming to the airport. My adopted father had a planned appointment in the city so at least I had a ride.  During the 1hr. car ride, not one word was spoken, no father son talk, no words of encouragement, no discussions about my hopes and dreams – nothing.  He walked me into the airport, shook my hand, and said ‘best of luck,’ turned, and left.  That was it, he did not even wait to see me through the gate. There was no time for me to have any emotional reaction.  I was free.  I made it, I served my time. Twelve years of living with these people and now I never had to see them in person again, and I didn’t. Several years later, my adopted mother’s sister (my adopted aunt) told me that when I left home my adopted mother called her and said that she knew she would probably never see me again. I don’t know whether this was her admission of her abusive behavior or her thinking I was an ungrateful child who dared to want more than she thought I deserved?  My decision to attend university and to be a Page in the federal parliament had earned me such scathing wrath.

 

At age 22 I had major surgery. I told my adoptive parents I was going into the hospital and when. Yet, they didn’t call me after the operation, I had to call them.  It was now clear that the bleeding gums and severe nosebleeds I had as a young child were warning signs for the condition I now had. This condition could have easily been addressed then, but my adoptive parents didn’t want to ‘waste’ their time on taking me to a doctor.

 

I graduated from McGill University and the Julliard School (not bad for a kid who was thwacked with a bamboo stick every time he made a mistake and whose mother shamed him for having to pay for gas) and not one word of interest from either adoptive parent.

 

Adoptive History

About two weeks before I entered the hospital for surgery, I found my biological father through the provincial adoption registry. He had also moved to British Columbia; however, I was now in Montreal.  He was extremely honest and truthful and told me everything without me needing to ask.  He told me who my biological mother was (she gave birth to me at age 15, he was 17), and that she had died of cancer at age 30. He was fully aware that I had been adopted with another boy, and it was my biological father who told me that this boy was actually my cousin!  He told me about my aunts and uncles.  He also told me that my mother had had another child – I had a younger half-sister.   One of my uncles who happened to be passing through Montreal at the time, came and visited me in the hospital. My father and I are no longer in contact.  I never met him in person or have even seen a picture of him. We only spoke over the phone and I appreciate his honesty and I sincerely hope that every adoptee seeking answers has someone as honest as this.

My mother’s side of the family was less than welcoming.  They tried to prevent my sister from knowing anything about me, but I went around them and eventually contacted her.  I was also put in touch with my adopted aunt (the mother of my cousin with whom I had been raised). As I was already scheduled to attend a music festival in Halifax that summer, I could now meet all these new relatives:  uncles and aunts, including the uncle who had visited me in the hospital, and both sets of grandparents,

 

I spent a lot of time with my maternal aunt. She told me that both she and my mother, upon learning that they were pregnant, left home and moved in with another family on the other side of the city. Therefore, my grandmother had only just learned that I existed; this aunt was not ready to tell her own mother that she also had an unknown child.  I asked my aunt if she wanted to meet her son and   she said she was not ready yet, so I asked her if it was alright for me to provide him with her contact details.  I took great satisfaction in being able to bring these two together and let my cousin meet his older brother (who was not given up for adoption). After my aunt met her son, rather than be thankful to me for facilitating this, she bad-mouthed me to him. No good deed goes unpunished!

 

Now it was time for me to meet my maternal grandmother. I arrived at her house alone.  She answered the door, and said she was on the phone.  From listening to her conversation I gathered that she had just returned from the drugstore without her medication. At age 22 I am meeting my maternal grandmother for the first time and she is wrapped up in a phone call about her lost pills! I would have readily offered to go to the drugstore and retrieve her package, but I realized she didn’t know me or have any idea whether I was trustworthy so I just stood there and waited.

 

When this call ended, rather than acknowledge me, my grandmother immediately phoned my aunt and ranted on the phone saying, “he is here…. he looks just like his mother… I’m not going to say her name, no I am not going to say her name….the devil is trying to make me say her name.”   My mother had now been dead for 7 years and my grandmother was still traumatized. I moved to the living room and sat down in a chair, and waited for her to finish her phone call.  Finally, after 20 minutes my grandmother came into the living room and sat opposite me.  There was one moment where she pointed her hand at me and said, “your mother always sat in that chair just how you are sitting now.” Beyond that comment, my maternal grandmother showed no curiosity about me, did not tell me one detail about my mother, and displayed no emotion toward this previously unknown first-born son of her deceased daughter now sitting in front of her. My presence seemed to be a sore reminder of her deceased daughter.  I could only feel very sorry for my grandmother and her focus on death instead of new life.

 

The Present

Today, I still wonder what these two adoptive parents were thinking.  Why would they, after raising their own children, adopt three more children – black children – and then be so hateful.  Was this some type of social experiment?  It turned out to be a failed adoption completely absent of any oversight.

 

From my age of 11 to 17, my adoptive father was retired.  He was at home all day every day yet never spent time with us or even spoke to us.   At age 17 I left home and never returned to that house; I never saw them in person again.  This was absolutely the right choice for me and I have never once regretted it.  Seventeen years after I left home, my cousin’s girlfriend called me in a state of panic to ask me why he was unable to function.  I explained the facts of the home environment in which he had been raised and how it completely destroyed him. She then told me that the two of them had flown to BC and met our adoptive parents. The four of them went to dinner, and according to her, both parents spent the entire time arguing and hitting each other.  I really think my brother/cousin should have known better and kept any girl away from those two. What was he thinking?

 

I realize that many biological children grow up in less than happy households.  But, most children can get out of the house.  Unless we were in the orchards working or at school, we had to be at home to witness this dysfunctional relationship.  We three boys who grew up together no longer have anything to do with each other.

 

I could have written so much more, but much is far too graphic to write here.  The one irony in this entire life journey is, the only reason I studied at very fine universities and did the types of things I wanted to do in life, is because I refused to honour my parents!

 

How do I feel having been adopted? I feel cheated by what I was never allowed to experience, but at the same time, vindicated!  The finest way to get revenge on my adoptive parents was to simply leave, and that is what I did.  Nothing makes evil people angrier than when they no longer have control over you.  So, I made that happen.  I never ever wanted to be like either of them – so I got far away from them.

 

The greatest lessons this adoptive journey taught me are: (1) tell your story for what it is. Do not sugar- coat it. If other people can’t handle it, that is their problem, (2) become much better than your parents ever were, and (3) don’t do what you think or believe is right, do what you know is right even if it incurs the wrath of many.

 

Raymond

Adult Adoptee 

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Melissa Guida-Richards

blog picBIO: Melissa Guida-Richards is a 25 years old stay at home mom that discovered she was adopted at nineteen years old. She created the blog spoonie-mama.com to be a helpful resource to other mothers dealing with chronic pain, the challenges of motherhood, and the struggles of being adopted. Melissa is also an aspiring children’s picture book author, that creates own voices stories that will touch the hearts of many. Her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Criminal Justice has helped her learn so much about mental health in our society, and she hopes to help many families affected.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

Lo siento, no hablo español.

By: Melissa Guida-Richards

Imagine waking up every day looking different than your parents

Asking yourself who you look like

Why your skin color is darker

Imagine working in a store and people coming up to you speaking a different language

“I don’t speak Spanish, I’m sorry”

And you are truly sorry

But not for them but yourself

Imagine they give you the look

You know what that look means

What kind of Hispanic doesn’t speak Spanish?

Imagine hating yourself because you know more Italian

You eat pasta almost every day

You hate rice and beans

Imagine not fitting in with your family

Imagine hating them but yet loving them all the same

Imagine coming to college and trying to embrace your true culture

But being so embarrassed because you don’t fit in with other Hispanics either

Imagine a fellow hermana asking you where you’re from…

Imagine the look you get when you tell her or anyone else that you’re adopted, I don’t speak Spanish

I

Don’t

Speak Spanish

Imagine asking your parents why they lied to you for so many years?

Imagine understanding but yet not forgiving them…

Imagine being Italian and Portuguese for 18 years of your life

Imagine finding out that they reason you’re darker is because you were adopted from Colombia

Imagine your family saying racist things about your culture

Imagine them not understanding why it’s wrong

Imagine crying because you don’t know where you belong

Imagine #thestruggle

Imagine what I want:

Respect

Imagine it being that simple

No more looks

No more questions

No more awkward moments when I say I’m adopted

No more wanting to hide who I really am

Imagine it being that simple

Because it really is that simple

Melissa Guida-Richards

Authors Note:

Adoption is not a one sized fit all puppies and rainbows situation. Their is definite trauma, stress, and anxiety. It has taken me over six years from my late discover of my adoption to work through a lot of negative feelings. I’m still affected by it to this day, but over time I have come to terms with it. It is important to talk about your situation so you can help yourselves process, so please do not hesitate to reach out to others, even just a Facebook group.

Connect with Melissa via Email, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Check out her article on The Mighty.

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Kevin Engle

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BIO: Kevin Engle is a retired addictions counselor whose professional life was spent as a therapist working at one of the premiere inpatient treatment facilities in the nation. He currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and is active in the adoption community. He spends his free time reading, writing, and walking his dog, Perry.

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

What follows is my “truth” as I see it today.

I don’t mean to suggest that my “truth,” or my story changes, but rather, as my insight grows, I can share more of it as I become more aware, and more of the fog lifts. This “story” doesn’t really contain much at all about my experience with reunion as I am finding that reality to be to new for me to write about in any meaningful way. There, the fog is still lifting and the subject is still quite emotionally confusing. Some of you will have read parts of this before, as I have shared pieces of my story as stand alone posts previously. For those of you that I bore, I apologize, but this is the first time that I have tried to share my “truth” as a hopefully meaningful whole.

There’s a cliché about failing relationships that goes like this… “there’s his side, her side, and what really happened.” That’s sort of what trying to make sense of my natural mother’s life is forcing me to do, compare the various stories told by her families and try to discern, “what really happened.”

This hasn’t been as difficult as one might think, you see, I’m not comparing the stories of the ex-husbands or others with obvious axes to grind, I’m talking with my family, both sides of my family, my “real” family, and there, there is agreement. I won’t go into the details, but my mother is, to put it as diplomatically as I can, troubled.

Her childhood, being raised in “foster care” on a Mennonite farm, was an experience shared by three of her seven children in their turn, and their experiences of life on the farm, unlike those reported by my natural mother, were good ones, but this isn’t my mother’s story, or my brother’s and sister’s stories, it’s mine.

I was adopted at eight months old, and went to live as the only child of a college professor, and a school teacher. I have no information about where I might have spent that first eight months, but from what I know about my mother’s circumstances, it wasn’t with her.

I don’t remember ever being told for the first time that I was adopted, it was just something that I had always known. What I do remember is the story, the one about how my “real” mother loved me so much, that knowing she wouldn’t be able to give me the type of life that I deserved, chose instead to give me up for adoption, and that my adoptive parents then in turn chose me to be their son, that I was special, and that I “came from good stock.” For what it’s worth, I believe that that is a horrible story to tell a child.

While I know that my parents meant well, what I took away from that story was the belief that love equaled being given away, and that since my adoptive parents chose me—I envisioned being picked out from among a group of babies, sort of like when we went to the dog breeder to get my first puppy—they could “unchoose” me if I didn’t do whatever it was that I was expected to do as their son. In short, I grew up believing that being loved was a pan-scale type of arrangement where love was contingent on good behavior.

My adoptive father was an intelligent, compassionate, and caring man, whose commitment to my well being I never had reason to question, yet question it I did, all the time. In retrospect, I was a tester of relationships. I was always, after about the fourth grade, testing others to see if their love had limits. My father passed this test, by dying before “finals,” when I was nineteen. My adoptive mother, by virtue of her own issues, did not.

For much of my life I was unaware of this pattern, but I always acted as if all love was conditional. When ever anyone said that they loved me, I thought to myself, sometimes unconsciously, “Will they still love me when I do this, or say that, or act out?”

Over time, I developed a variation on this theme.

As an adoptee, my trust issues ran the gamut from not trusting at all, to trusting to much and to easily.

I don’t know which came first, the chicken or the egg, but I would go through a period of time where I trusted no one at all and then shift, to suddenly trusting someone with my whole life story. Not surprisingly, this would tend to scare individuals away—to much information to soon—giving me a reason, at least to my way of thinking, for swinging back to the other pole, where I trusted no one.

What was really happening, I believe, was my acting out my unconscious search for someone to accept and nurture my inner child. I wasn’t developing relationships, I was trying to take hostages!

The whole problem with “tests” is that there is always another level to take them to. I had to find my own sense of belonging within myself. I had to stop expecting others to prove their love for me by passing my tests. Eventually, as I continued to raise the stakes, we reached a point where they failed my impossible last test.

What I have learned over the years is that the kind of acceptance and nurturing I was searching for could come from within me. I needed to learn that I could be my own inner child’s guardian and protector. I needed to learn how to be comfortable in my own skin. It was only then that I began to develop healthier relationships with others.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not “fixed,” I still go back and forth with trust, but the swings aren’t as extreme as they once were, and I no longer feel compelled to act on them blindly.

That all said, the root issue for me is fear – the fear of the unknown, the fear of rejection, and the fear of being deeply, deeply, hurt. Emotionally, I become that small child who had no idea what was happening to him when he suddenly found himself in a new “home,” where no one, and nothing was familiar.

I have written before that I believe we stay as sick as our secrets, so, in the interest of full disclosure, here is what was once my biggest secret. For much of my life I lived in a dark, dark, place filled with despair and self-loathing, feeling less than and wanting to die.

For a long time—ever since I was an adolescent in fact—I believed that “life sucks, and then you die.” This “world view,” which had its roots in the fact of my adoption and growing up in an abusive home, led me to wonder, over and over, how the people that I saw around me seemingly handled simply living from day to day, but I kept my inner world a secret.

I tried to act as if everything was alright with me.

I tried to mimic the lives of those I thought seemed happy with their lot in life, but to no avail.

I kept my inner world a secret.

Over time, I tried relationships, I tried sexual promiscuity, I tried marriages, I tried new jobs, I tried new cities, I tried over-achieving, I tried under-achieving, I tried drugs and alcohol, I tried religion, but always, I kept my secret. Finally, at 27, having collected a whole slew of new secrets to stuff down into my inner world, profoundly depressed, feeling hopeless and helpless, I tried suicide for the first time.

For me, adoption, and how it was handled, or rather how it was not handled, by both my adopted parents, and myself, became a breeding ground for mental illness.

Finally, after years of trying to handle my inner world all by myself, I surrendered, and honestly asked for help. I shared my secrets for the first time with other adoptees, and was amazed to find that I wasn’t rejected out of hand. I shared my story and my truth for the first time and found acceptance and support. In a very real way, my truth has set me free.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not “cured.” In my opinion, when you have adoption related trauma, and add to it an abusive parent, you have a recipe for a lifelong struggle to find “connectedness” in the world in which you live. To this day, in spite of years of working on this issue with therapists and in groups, I still struggle with relationships and trust.

 In the beginning, self-awareness as it related to being an adoptee sucked.

I knew I had problems, but I didn’t know what to do about them. I began sharing my story, my truth, with others, and slowly, things began to make sense for me. I read the stories of other adoptees, and related them to my own experiences. I read about adoption in general, not from the adopters perspective, although there is a place for that, but from the perspective of fellow adoptees and natural mothers. It helped a lot.

Perhaps most importantly, I began to share my pain and confusion, and that helped to lessen my load.

When I first began looking at what my childhood and adult life was really like, at an emotional level, I became so angry that it scared me. I needed the help of knowledgeable and caring others to allow me to begin expressing my feelings in a healthy way. I needed to learn that feelings weren’t facts, and that experiencing my own feelings—some of which I had been holding inside since I was a small, small, child—wasn’t going to kill me. I’m not kidding, the little boy that still lives within me thought he would die if he stopped protecting himself from his feelings.

Acceptance was the key for me. Acceptance that my life, in spite of my being adopted, and in spite of all my warts, was good and had meaning for me.

The process of healing from adoption related trauma for me has been like peeling the skin off an onion – there seems to always be yet another layer, and tears are often involved.

n gaining a better understanding of—better insight into—myself as being someone who experiences adoption trauma, it has helped me to think of my trauma as something that has a will to live, a will to maintain the status quo, and a desire to continue to keep me sick. My trauma has, in its own way, “talked” to me ever since I was a child. First, it repeated the messages it heard from others, then it convinced me to tell myself these same messages.

It wasn’t that bad.

You’re just ungrateful.

Nobody will understand.

Your childhood was wonderful, what’s wrong with you?

Nobody wanted you.

You’re different.

You’re unloved and unlovable.

You never did live up to your potential.

It’s never going to get any better.

Nobody can be trusted.

Don’t ever let anyone know how you really feel, better yet, don’t feel.

These messages, and others like them, overwhelmed the child in me and became my secret inner voice, always waiting for the opportunity to speak up and remind me of what I really came to believe about myself. No wonder I lived in a dark world of depression and self-loathing. No wonder I reached the conclusion that “life sucks and then you die.”

Today, while I can, at times, still hear the voice of trauma, I’m no longer ruled by it.

I share with others, on an ongoing basis, parts of my truth, and the process of my recovery, and in so doing, I help myself.

I read about others experiences with adoption trauma, and in so doing, I help myself.

Thank you all for reading this, and a special thanks to those of you who choose to share with me, parts of your truth, you help me more than you can ever know.

Kevin Engle

Adult Adoptee 

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Shane Blackwell

Shane BlackwellBIO: I was adopted at 3 weeks old.  When I turned 23months old my a-mother gave birth to twin girls.

My adoptive parents believed that adoptees were “blank slates” and that I would/should “fit in”.  I wasn’t and I didn’t.  My personality and emotions are SO much like my birth mothers, and nothing like my adoptive family.  When I wouldn’t conform, I was ridiculed, punished and ostracised.  Despite my twin sister’s going to school every day and coming home every afternoon, I was sent to boarding school 5 minutes from home as a border ostensibly “to toughen me up”.  At 16y/o I was forced to sign a veto document so my birth mother couldn’t contact me.

In 2012 my son was diagnosed and treated for brain cancer, my ex wife had an affair and my marriage crumbled.  My a-parents still blame us for both.

In April 2016 I found my birth mother with the help of JigSaw Queensland, and we finally reunited on 3rd May 2016.  We have been in constant daily communication ever since.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

What adoption did to me…

Ever look at a complete stranger and wonder who they are?

What makes you come to a conclusion of acceptances or rejection in what seems a microsecond. How do you read people? Is it their appearance, what they are wearing, or the look of their face?

Maybe it’s deeper than that.

What do you see when you look across the room? Can you see the sadness or the spark in someone’s eyes, the sorrow or happiness in their heart? Maybe it’s the weakness in their posture or the way they hold themselves. Are they sitting alone or in a group?

More importantly what do you do next? Do you ignore them? Or interact with them?

What could you learn from them? What life lesson have shaped them and what have they learnt from their experiences?

I see a man that loves, yet his heart is broken. I see a man that feels, yet his body is stiff. His eyes are dry, yet his soul weeps.

Do you see me?

Do you know how I feel?

I’ve been broken, blank, flat, depleted, confused, beaten, and numb. I’m struggling to come to terms with what has happened to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my adopted family, and I appreciate everything they have done for me. I wouldn’t be the person I am now if it wasn’t for them, but somehow we’ve lost our way.

The torment and primal wounding of adoption and losing the connection to my birth mother haunted me.

Being a highly sensitive introvert that was ostracized and bullied by peers in youth & in boarding school to the extent of developing a severe stutter.

Irlen Syndrome, a perceptual processing disorder, accompanied by dyslexia, resulting in poor curricular performance in school, including failing art.

A poor career decision to leave a great job which lead to employment in narcissistic workplaces which left me with severe depression.

My son was diagnosed with a brain tumour which has left him with lifelong disabilities and personal challenges.

Broken marriage, after my wife ran off with another man, lost my house and the majority of contact with my 2 kids.

Having to deal with a psychologically controlling, invasive matriarchal, somewhat narcissistic adoptive mother who demanded me to stop seeing my new partner at this age. I was 42. They also repeatedly overstep and disregard boundaries demanded by myself in regards to my parenting requirements and them accessing my son. This recently lead to a mass falling out and disownment from the family.

Adoption: As an adoptee I have suffered grief over the loss of a relationship with my birth parents. I have repeatedly dealt with abandonment issues in just about all my relationships. I struggled with self-esteem and identity development.

When I was adopted my adoptive parents were given the impression that we were blank slates and that adopted families weren’t any different from any other family. That’s just not true. We were supposed to fit in and mould to their world, their heritage, and be just like them. They were misinformed by people and organisations who knew better, there for they were unequipped. Even if the most empathetic understanding family adopted me, it’s too much of an obstacle and physiological trauma was inevitable.

Blind to my special needs as an adopted child, intimacy and closeness was what I craved, but due to the lack of professional screening processes, it was pot luck as to what family I landed in. My adoptive mother controlled my relationships and used food and financial support to trigger my guilt to keep her happy. She used this to her advantage without considering my true needs. I was not permitted to search for my birth family, I was forced to sign a veto on my 16th birthday, stopping my birth family from contacting me.

She intentionally amplified and used my weakness against me. I was so eager to please. I was not in a position to, and/or didn’t have the skills and understanding to stand up for what we believed in as our own family. Eventually that splinter turned into a wedge and the relationship with my ex wife collapsed.

Cancer: During my younger years I was quite naive about what cancer was and how many people are affected.

I had been quite lucky that an impromptu skin check in 2009 found a stage 1 malignant melanoma just above my shoulder blades.

In December 2011 my 13 year old son was diagnosed with a brain tumour. My then wife and I took him to the doctor multiple times after he started bumping into things and become very vague and losing interest in things he had previously loved doing. Over nearly a 12 month period we were repeatedly told from numerous people he was fine and it was just puberty and hormones kicking in. They were wrong. My adoptive family now blame us for him getting cancer.

He had a 3 cm tumour blocking the flow of fluid around the brain and spinal column, causing pressure to build up on his brain. He also had a smaller one on his pituitary gland. The 2 malignant Germinomas were treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy successfully and he is now in remission, however he was left with considerable lifelong challenges and health issues.

Severe short term memory and brain development problems. Minor muscular atrophy on the left side of his body affecting his dexterity and movement. Severe anxiety to the point where he overthinks, clicks his fingers and repeatedly talks to himself. Diabetes Insipidus a condition that dilutes urine and seriously affects the brain’s chemistry. Ongoing hormone regulation issues from having basically no pituitary gland. Pronation distortion syndrome, a severe distortion of the legs and knee joints after hormone treatment. Puberty and growth problems.

In 2013 I found another stage 1 malignant melanoma on the inside of my left thigh above the knee.

In 2014 my adoptive mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Just like adoption, I was never given an opportunity, support or the space to deal with how cancer had affected my life and the people around me. It was as though I didn’t exist, my feelings didn’t matter and my opinions didn’t count. Like adoption, I was forced from people who should have loved me to continue my life as though nothing was wrong.

Work: After school I had no idea what I was going to do. I ended up working for my adoptive father for 8 or 9 years. He owned petrol stations and moved into bulk fuel distribution. After he retired my sister and I started a petrol station together. I only lasted another 3 years when I found my call to be a graphic designer. I was then fortunate enough to be asked back to the college where I studied, to teach part time at nights. After 12 months the position became full time. The college was in a state of transition of ownership when after 6 years my contract came up for renewal. At this stage I had been an unofficial program manager for close to 3 years. The position never came so I moved on.

I took part time and full time jobs over the next 3 years with some good but mostly bad employers with questionable ethics. I then slid into depression. Little did I know that teaching had become a greater part of my life than I realised and I missed it dearly. I had become so depressed that I had started to talk erratically to myself just to get through the day. In early November 2012 they must have seen or heard me in a moment of distress, but instead of helping me they walked me to the gate and told me never to come back. 4 weeks later we’d received the diagnosis of my son’s brain tumour.

I finally got my career back on track in the following March as a lecturer, and moved from one college to the next through corporate takeovers etc. Then the business owners who I was working for embezzled 20 million dollars of government funded money, including wages and entitlements owed to me and many others.

I now work for a national directory company assisting with marketing via web and print.

Self doubt has always lingering…. For years I have struggled, looking for external validation, looking to understand who I am and justify my life experiences.

The Validation didn’t come so I started looking within, I started not to care of what others thought of me, I could only validate myself, I finally realised that no one else could do that for me.

I started questioning everything I believed in, I was shaken to the core. I looked deep within my soul and I chose to believe in myself. I realised I was not the person I once was, and I was no longer the person others perceived me to be. I’ve started to strip away everything and everyone that have been holding me back.

Disownment

Again I’ve been broken, my chest is collapsing on my heart, metaphysical pain has been polluting my body for as long as I can remember. Every day is a challenge every step is a mountain and my tears are the rivers.

I must ensure I am in alignment with my true self and not take on the negativity and will of other people, not only me but for the people around me, my work, my friends, my partner and children and those who still love me unconditionally.

Being a highly sensitive person I’ve longed to be understood and valued for who I am. With a combination of masculinity with deep empathy, and commitment to Truth. I can provide a great source of comfort and healing for anyone who is willing to receive it.

I believe the Highly Sensitive person’s time is coming where his hidden attributes will be called for in our society. They will be the new and sought out leaders.

People are tired of the shallow, game playing, egotistical interactions that have become the norm.

We can spot deception from a mile.

The cheap interactions with narcissistic personalities we tend to attract are just getting very predictable. Many of us have evolved from those demeaning relationships including myself.

Too many have also wrongly associated masculinity with being controlled, demeaned and disrespected.

But these old paradigm beliefs from the previous millennium, are now quickly dissipating.

They are being replaced with a more balanced and empowering perspective of what masculinity truly is.

I applaud all those Highly Sensitive people who are embracing their gifts and becoming outstanding beacons of Light.

I hope it’s not too late.

I hope I can save myself.

With the help of the right people in my life I am beginning to understand my true self and reconnect with the sensitive child within me. Little by little, each breath is finding new strength, a new purpose, to reclaim the identity that was once mine, then taken from me and be happy for who I am.

It’s my time to assertively step up, and shine.

Shane Blackwell

Adult Adoptee

Please take a moment to check out some of Shane’s articles and be sure to follow his blog:

Thoughtless Delineation

“Seven” is no longer my lucky number

Adoptiopn is a psychological barrier

The cloak in the mirror

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Suzy Garber

2016 07 13 Suzy Garber-3 copyBIO: I’ve always been the one that played by the rules: a good kid, a good student, a good friend, a sister, a loving daughter, a wife, a mother, a neighbor, a volunteer and the one that kept the peace. I lived my life within the box, but I never really felt comfortable within my skin. Life was status quo, I was settling and then….My world was turned upside down (isn’t that how most change begins?) I was cracked wide open. I lost my parents, ended my long term marriage, the kids went off to school, questioned friendships, started dating, searched for my birth family, and looked for meaning! All that was my status quo just wasn’t anymore. You’ve heard the expression: Been there, done that; I have and I’ve survived and even thrived!

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

I have always known that I am somehow different from others. I’m not sure that I ever felt it was because I’m adopted. But I knew that I had a missing piece.

I grew up in the late 50s, in LA, with older parents and a younger brother. He was also adopted, but from a different family and different circumstances. I’ve known I’m adopted as far back as I can remember. It was just part of my family’s vocabulary I was a ‘Chosen Child.’ In my mind, being adopted didn’t make me different –  it made me ‘chosen’! I thought,  “What kid didn’t want to be someone’s choice?”

I never really gave adoption much thought until I was expecting my first child, at the age of 30. Lots of questions about my medical history flooded in and I had no answers and lots of missing pieces. My parents didn’t really know much about my genetics other than I was from Jewish parents—so the testing began. When my son was born, he was the first person I knew that not only shared my DNA, but also my face. The attachment and connection was instantaneous.

I lost both of my parents in my early 30s. When their safe deposit box was opened, my adoption papers were inside as well as California’s non identifying information: lots of answers to my missing pieces.

My parents had always been very forthcoming with my adoption information so I grew up knowing that I had three siblings, my birth mother’s name, and the family couldn’t afford a fourth child. I was told that my birth mother died in a car accident when I was four and that the rest of the family was told that I was a miscarriage.

I sat on all of my information for two decades –  not curious or brave enough to look for answers to questions that I had and not wanting to disturb my birth family.

Fast forward to my 50s—a decade of huge transformation for me. I found myself divorcing, empty nesting, reevaluating my life and asking all kinds of self-discovery questions— all at the same time. I wanted to know who I really was and anything else I could learn about me and my missing pieces; my life and focus had shifted—completely. I became brave and stood in my own voice—something I hadn’t done since I was in my 20s.

On a random Sunday evening I was home alone on the couch reading Steve Jobs’ autobiography. He too was adopted. I’m not sure what motivated me, but I picked up the envelope with all of my adoption information, and called my brother and asked for the phone number of the researcher who had located his birth family 20 years earlier. One phone call, a 20 minute wait and I had all of the information that I needed to find out more about my missing pieces. I knew the speedy results weren’t typical. I was beyond fortunate to have had all of the information prior to my initial inquiry. My heart goes out to people who don’t have clues to their past.

The researcher made the first call to my birth father because I didn’t want to deal with the rejection—a common issue for adoptees. The call was answered by his wife, the only person that knew of my existence. She told the researcher to have me call back later.

I mustered all of my courage and made the call that would change my questions into

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(L-R) Myself, Birth Father & Oldest Sister

answers and find all the missing pieces. On the other end of the phone was an affable old man of 84 who said that everything that I had been told by my parents was true. He also asked for my patience because he would have to tell his children about my existence. They had all been told I was a boy who had died at birth.

We exchanged pictures. When the envelope arrived I held it with trepidation. Inside held the answer to my life-long missing piece: Who do I look like? The pictures were so revealing: I’m a mix of both of my parents and my three siblings. My boys are a mix too.

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Sister  & I

One by one I began to receive emails and phone calls from my siblings. Imagine being 62, 60 and 58 and finding out that you had been lied to your entire life by your father. My eldest sister called first, in tears, saying that she always had a feeling that I actually existed. My brother and middle sister were told a week later and they reacted by wondering what other information was kept from them. I’d wonder too if it was me.

I made plans to visit Los Angeles. For some reason I wasn’t nervous about meeting everyone—I was curious and that curiosity propelled me forward on my mission to find my missing pieces.

Each member of the family told me independently that I was the lucky one-the one who avoided growing up in such a mixed up family that was perpetuated by lies and avoidance of all meaningful or emotional relationships:  After the death of my birth mother, my birth father remarried a woman with four children, three of whom were adopted and one natural child. The blended family had more than its share of issues—nobody really likes each other, his kids raised her kids, lots of failed marriages, only three grandchildren from seven kids, and two of my siblings have very minimal contact with their parents. There are never any family gatherings.

So, here I am, five years later. I’ve developed deep relationships with my middle sister and brother. Bottom line, some people you connect with and some you don’t.  Lots of missing pieces have been filled in for me and a sense of knowing who I am has been deepened at my core. Knowing my missing pieces has given my life purpose and direction that I never knew I was missing. My passion project has become my life’s work. I am a Guardian ad Litem advocating in court for children in the foster care system and I am a certified life Coach. I work with people and their agenda to move forward to live a more purposeful and optimal life. I coach people in transition: divorce, dating again, empty nest, aging parents, etc., and I coach members of the adoption triad.

I consistently find myself in the company of people that are adopted or adoptive parents. People just talk to me and common threads are always revealed.

You can check out my website here: http://www.empowherfulvoice.com/ or find me on Facebook EmpowHERful Voice.

I always offer a free first coaching call so that you can decide if coaching is something that would benefit you!

Thanks for reading,

Suzy Garber

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Jennifer Shrake

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BIO: Jennifer is a former art teacher that loves children, animals and the arts. She wishes someone would write a book or make a movie about her life.  This is just a small part of her life.

 

 

 

 

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

MY STORY:

BY Jennifer Shrake

I grew up in a unique home.  I always knew that I was adopted.  I had a younger brother that was also adopted. We both turned out to be very different. He took his own life several years ago, addiction is what he turned to, starting as early as fourth grade. The problem with both of us is that we didn’t fit in, actually no one fit in.  We were a dysfunctional family, all with mental problems. We looked good from the outside, but not inside of the walls of our home.

My mother had a vision of how I should be. A lady of class, quiet, polite, entertaining, socially known, taking care of my husband and children. She would repeat her fears over and over to me. She believed she was not smart and told me how terrified she was of school. She kept repeating things to scare me.  This is how I believe she tried to control me. I was pretty much brain washed.  We lived in a dirty house with squirrels in the attic.  She was afraid of water and did not bathe. We had seventeen cats, four dogs, turtles, fish, snake and alligator.  Both of my parents were hoarders, we had stacks of papers and junk from the floor to the ceilings, filling the basement attic and the entire house. I believe she did not want a girl baby, so I pretty much raised myself, hearing verbal abuse.  Zero bonding and love for me. I was an introvert, unloved, unwanted child that dreamed what her real family would be like.

As for my brother Jeff, she would hold and read to him every night.  She would always tell him how she loved him of course in front of me.  She loved Jeff so much. She kept repeating that she wished her father could have seen him. He was a farmer, so naturally Jeff was told he would be a good farmer and had lots of farm toys.  She was a den mother, always helped Jeff with his homework.  He would get into trouble and she would bail him out.  Who would buy their own hubcaps back from a kid for $75.00? My mother of course! She could see no wrong in him.  He would try different jobs but never be able to hold one down.  He went to different types of training and schooling. She helped them out financially, even though they filed bankruptcy twice.  On her death bed, she pleaded with me to never let Jeff lose his home or car.  Guess what? He wanted rent money from me, I told him I would think about it.  He called and I didn’t feel like answering my phone. That was the end of Jeff. He couldn’t make it without mom.

My father loved me. Unfortunately, I did not realize this when I was a child. He has been gone now about 23 years. I noticed when I looked at pictures he was always holding me, playing with me, he adored me.  I really regret that I didn’t tell him I loved him.  He would come in my bedroom and kiss me on my forehead every night. He did not know how to deal with his personal issues. He would seldom be home. If he was, he would retreat to the attic and we were told to not go up there and bother him. One time my brother and I sneaked into the attic and found inappropriate sexual material. We both realized that all of my parent’s close friends were LGBT. Back then sexuality was hidden behind the doors.  When my father turned 50, he lost his job and became afraid to drive. My mother drove him everywhere. At this point he retreated even more.  My father had no relationship with my brother. He didn’t know how to do boy things. He let my mother continue the enabling of my brother and the bullying of me.

So how did I turn out? 

I was so scared and insecure. I probably didn’t say two words in school. A neighbor boy use to beat me up. I was overweight and depressed.  I married my high school boyfriend to get out of the house. He couldn’t believe how my home life was.  He was a real faithful, two women became pregnant in our short 2 ½ year marriage. I divorced him. My mother let me know that I was a disgrace to the family, the first ever divorce and that they would not help me out financially. Guess what, I made it with very little money and only a part-time job. I paid my rent, ate on a tight budget and shopped at garage sales. Still kept wondering about my “real” family.

Shortly after my divorce, I became close friends with my neighbor a social worker, I also started going to counseling. This is when my life really changed. I realized I didn’t need anybody and could be independent, which I already had been doing my whole life. Carol helped dig me out of my depression hole. I started enjoying life, just the simple things like having a garden, making my own paintings to decorate my walls, hanging baskets from my ceiling, just living a free spirit life enjoying time with my friends and two cats.  One Halloween Carol and I went to a party, she met John and fell in love.

A few months later I met my future husband Tim. My parents met him for the first time at my brother’s wedding reception; a keg at his trailer. We had already been dating a couple of years. I wasn’t seeing my family very much.

Tim was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor.  We went to Mayo Clinic and he had brain surgery. Six weeks later we decided to get married. Three months later I became pregnant. When my son was born, my parents were back in my life. It had been a nice vacation. They both loved and adored my son.  They were good grandparents. When my mother tried to tell him her fears, I would cut her off. She kept calling my son Jeff, we kept correcting her. My son was her dream child. My goal was to raise my son to be a strong independent young man. My husband and I did a good job.

All of my adopted immediate family are deceased. Five years ago, our state allowed adoptees to get their original birth certificate.  There was a year notice before this law went into effect. I thought that November would never come. The day after it became legal, I took a personal day from school and took my papers and check to get my birth certificate. When I arrived. the lady said that it would be months before I would get it. They had been swamped with people waiting in line. I was disappointed.  I decided that I would play detective the rest of the day.

My first stop was the hospital. I had always been told I was born there. I went in and asked for my medical records. They had no record of me being born there. I was stunned!! My next step was the court house.  I had always been told that you could never get your adoption record. I filed a petition asking for my adoption file, stating it was my right.  Two weeks later I got a phone call, my file was ready to be picked up.

I was scared to death. I waited for my husband to get home from work. We sat together on our loveseat, I was shaking as I tore the envelope. I had a different name, my name was Mary Schwab. My birth mother’s name was listed. I had never thought about the possibility of me having a different name.  I was shocked. Most of the information regarding the adoption had been xxxx out. I was still extremely excited about the facts I had found out about myself.

Back to the hospital I returned with a different name. Yes, they had my records! The town from where my birth mother was from was listed on my medical records. She had driven herself from a small town that was about 40 miles where I live.  I got in the car and drove to the small-town library. Immediately I found her in the yearbook and telephone book.  She was so beautiful. No more fantasy, I had discovered who my birth mother was. More investigating to do…..

My next step in detective work was the internet.  I started looking up her name.  I found her brother’s obituary. Her name along with her husbands was listed as well as my aunts and uncles. She lived in a town only 25 miles from me. With a few searches I was able to drive by her house. There was an elderly man sitting in the driveway. She had the same type of yard decorations as me and a cat in her yard. I felt like I was just like her.  Hum what to do next…..

It has now been two months since I requested my birth certificate. It arrives! Yep all of my detective work has been confirmed. I have found her.

Now how do I make contact?

I decide to send her a questionnaire with yes and no check boxes. I ask her about my medical history, her hobbies, who my father was and would she like to meet me. I immediately receive it back, all of the boxes have been answered.  To my disappointment, she does not want to meet me right now. But I now have another clue…. My birth fathers name!!

I googled his name and found his obituary, he died two years prior to my search but I have half brothers and sisters. I send them messages on Facebook. I heard back from my half-brother Rob.  He wants to meet me and so does his mother, my father’s second wife.  We decide to meet at Applebee’s.

My husband and I go to the restaurant.  I am so nervous, I don’t know what to expect. They arrive, Julia is crying and hugs me. “Your father looked for you, but couldn’t find you.” Tears are running down my face, my brother is hugging me too, we have the same nose, he just got back from a year in Afghanistan. We are all so emotional, my husband and Rob’s wife soak in this whirlwind of a dream. Rob called all of my other half brothers and sisters, even my father’s first wife. She knew about me too. I was confirmed.  I existed! This was just the beginning!! When I met Rob’s kids, I found that my baby pictures looked just like them. When I meet my niece, I found that I have the same toes she does. It is a huge stress relief to find other people that I am related to. I have a family with similar characteristics as myself.

I have met two of my brothers, others don’t want to meet me.  I had a lot of trouble understanding why the rejection, but I cannot get into their minds to know what they are thinking.  But I know where I came from. I have also had two DNA tests and found more cousins, and cousins.  I cherish the relationships I have with my birth family

After several months went by, I sent my biological mother a card.  After several cards, she agreed to meet with me.  She had never told her husband about me. It was not a loving, good first meeting. It has been almost four years since I met her. I did get to meet her husband and have a relationship with him.  On his deathbed, I told him who I was.   He said he always knew.  I behave and sit just like she does, we have the same movements. She has not filled the void I have from not having the bonding at birth. I don’t know if that void can ever be filled.  I think it starts at birth and continues as the mother takes care of the child. Our relationship is growing and still continues.

I have answered many questions about myself.  I do not regret any of my research.  My life has not been a fairy-tale but I have my answers.  I became a combination of everyone. My adopted parents, my birth parents, my friends, my husband and my son.

If you choose to search, remember not all stories turn out with happy endings.  

I still deal with many issues, especially rejection.  My husband has been my love and stability through my life. My son and I have a bond that I will cherish forever. I have love and family. Adopted life is not easy, if you are a parent of an adopted child, don’t expect them to be like you. They will pick up some of your traits, help them find out who they are.  Always hold them and tell them how much you love them.

If you are an adoptee, fight to stay positive, appreciate all of the blessings in your life, don’t consume yourself on what you don’t have.  I wasted most of my life dreaming and wanting what I already had; love and a parent/child bond.

I would like to dedicate this story to my husband, son and friend Carol

Jennifer Shrake

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Taqwetta Crawley

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BIO: Peace to everyone! I’m Taqwetta, a 36 year old mother of 5 (I have only given birth to one, but I’ll explain later in the piece). I am an adopted, only child. I am a Muslim (not even close to being a good example of one), as a matter of fact, I am the only person in my family, who is a Muslim (from either side).

I’m a resident of Atlanta, GA, a transplant from New Haven, CT. I have lived in Georgia for 10 years now, having moved to escape an abusive relationship. We were together for 3 years. One day he went to work and my family and I, packed the apartment he and I shared and I drove to Atlanta the next day.

I’m a very interesting soul, my ways of seeing the world are very original, however I am one of the biggest devil’s advocates around. I build my life around believing that, I don’t have to agree with a person to understand where they are coming from. And just because I understand, doesn’t mean that I agree.

My passion is writing, but it took me years and years of searching to own this part of myself. One would think, with the accolades, media attention, and gateways that my writings have brought me, that I wouldn’t have any doubts about what I have been destined to do.

I am currently in a relationship, we’ve been together for a little over 9 years. We have a beautiful 6 year old, who was 4 months premature. She was once called a micropreemie, weighing in at 1lb .05oz. She would later weigh in at an astounding  15oz. My partner was previously married, with whom he has 3 children. His ex-wife also has another child from a later marriage. His ex-wife and I are best friends, in fact she is out daughter’s Godmother. So between their 3, her one and our one child, I am mother to 5 beauties.

I too, was 4 months premature, not expected to survive; just as my daughter. While pregnant with her, I developed a Saddle Pulmonary Embolism and was at deaths door for some time. I also contracted MRSA, which made my Saddle PE an even more difficult situation.

Since then, I have been through some treacherous health issues, all while tending to my daughter, who has been diagnosed with Autism. She is on the low end of the spectrum, but it is still a journey nonetheless.

Well, that’s the long and short of who I am. Most people love me, some don’t get me but I make no apologies for the best part of who I am.

Content Warning: The following article you are about to read may contain written material of a serious factual nature that may be disturbing to some individuals.

Reader discretion is advised.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

The Inability to Trust

Imagine if you will, growing up knowing your mother never wanted you. Conscious of the fact that she left you at the hospital to be cared for by strangers.  Four months premature, on the verge of death and she walked away. Never looked back, never asked about you, she just left and continued with her life.

What might this do to you?

Might one have a complex? If so, what would it consist of and how would it play out in your mental development? How would you view the world? How would you see yourself?

That’s the life I led, all while having 2 parents that loved me; 2 adoptive parents. Now, let’s get something straight, I NEVER refer to them as such. They are my parents; my mom and my dad. They took me in, they raised me, cared for me very well. They blessed me with a family, one that I wouldn’t trade, for anything. Yes, they chose me, yes, they loved and continue to love me and I am beyond grateful. However, feeling as I were a burden, has always been a part of my emotional make up.

To sit amongst your “adoptive” family and see similarities in looks, in mannerisms, laughs and recognize that you don’t fit, is harrowing. To see that there is no physical resemblance, amongst you and the ones you love, is painful. I ultimately felt that my life wasn’t real, it felt as though I was living in a false world, one that would not be real, until I met the woman who walked away.

I developed a theory about relationships and people. If the woman who carried me and gave me life, could walk away without a second thought, then why should I expect anyone else to be dedicated. I began to believe that I would forever watch people walk out of my life. The woman who had a closer bond to me than anyone else, before I was born, could easily leave me at death’s door and not look back, causes a natural disconnect. She gave me life, but wanted no parts of me; this is how I saw my life.

At 18, I met the woman I owed my existence, I saw reality. When I laid eyes on her, it was as if the world finally made sense. I saw the woman God used to bring me here, the woman He entrusted to do right by me. And she did just that, she walked away. But, I’ll come back to that. Anyway, while my parents and I waited for her arrival, my nerves were calm. It was weird, because one would think that a person in my position would be beyond nervous. As we waited my “adoptive” mother tried to quell any disappointment, it looked as if she wasn’t going to show up. Little did she know, I didn’t expect her to. The social worker who located her for me, had told me that she(my birth mother), expressed dread. She feared the moment I would come back around. To know that after 18 years, in her heart of hearts, that she still didn’t want any part of me, wasn’t surprising.

After waiting for approximately 20 minutes or so, my “adoptive” father spotted her; how he knew, we never asked. The social worker then ran after her, because she was actually running away, after my she realized she was spotted. Imagine that feeling, the feeling of being a tangible, visual pain for your own mother. The feeling of being such a gross example of life, to the woman who had you, is devastating.

After the social worker found her and began walking towards us, I could barely see her face. She used her hands, to hide her tears. My parents were crying, the social worker is crying, my biological mother is crying, yet I am standing there smiling. Why? Because I finally feel real, I see my face in the face of another. I see my twin. As she approached, all I could hear her say is, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”. I can barely speak, because I can finally see who I am. My height, my skin tone, my eyes, my nose, they are all characteristics of her; my mother. I speak and say “Don’t apologize. I thank you. I thank you so much.” The next words from my mouth made her cry even harder, as I said “You look like me, no, I look just like you. There I am mommy (talking to my adoptive mother), there I am.”

After a very long hug, a hug that was really an exchange of spirits, which was long overdue, we sat down to eat.

She had brought along pictures of her other 5 children; all older. She spoke of them with such love and pride. Even though I was happy to see my origin, I was hurt to know she loved them but didn’t love me. She then explained she had miscarriages prior to me and couldn’t watch me die. I didn’t take that as a reason. My soul wouldn’t let me. She then said that, she was afraid to tell my siblings, because she didn’t know what their reaction was going to be. I didn’t understand that part, but I chose not to ask.

About 2 weeks later, while at a friend’s house, my biological sister called, my heart was pounding. Growing up as an only child was difficult. To live your lonely life, knowing you had siblings and to now finally be able to speak to one of them, was surreal. We spoke for a few and then she dropped the bomb. You see, my biological mother was afraid to tell my siblings, because when she gave birth and came home without me, she told them I was dead.

Could you imagine the pain that this caused them?

The pain it must have caused her?

The pain it was now causing me?

For 18 years they mourned the death of their baby sister. They found out she was pregnant, when she was rushed to the hospital giving birth. Only one of my brother’s was able to see and hold me.  When mama (that’s what I call my biological mother) came home without me, she informed them that I had died. My siblings asked about a funeral and she explained that the hospital was going to handle all of that. No closure at all. In a matter of days, they had a new sister and then dead sibling.

Mama must have been so burdened by this, the lie, the tears she had to wipe, the comfort she had to give and the fear of one day, possibly having to confront it all. But right now, in this moment of hearing all of this, I feel even lower about the world. To know that death was placed upon your name, by the woman that gave you life, because she didn’t want to have you in hers AT ALL, was such a massive blow.

About a month later I met all my siblings except one. My mother (adoptive) hosted it and my Godparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and Grandfather were all there. It was absolutely amazing.

I soon would visit my mother and siblings, only to have her leave the room or leave altogether when I arrived. For years, she would run away from me, not wanting to engage with me at all.

It was now clear, either she was ashamed or really wanted no parts of me.

During this time, I was in the Nation of Islam (under the leadership of The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan) and was enjoying life. I was soon engaged to a man, a man whom I was so spiritually connected. We had plans, we were so in love, yet we had to fight to be together.  We didn’t make it, he didn’t fight, he walked away. A few years later, I had left The Nation and began dating outside of Islam, meaning I was with people that didn’t share my mindset, my way of being. The next man I dated, impregnated me. I left him and ended up having a life threatening pregnancy. I unfortunately lost that baby.

I dated a few others but the one that changed my life, also made my life unbearable and steered me to where I am today. He was the son, of the woman my uncle was dating. The entire family, his and mine, all were against our relationship. He had a history of domestic violence and the fear he would do it to me,was very real. Unfortunately, he proved everyone to be right. For 3 years, I endured pain like I had never experienced previously. I was punched, choked, raped, stomped and mentally tortured. Yet my fear of leaving, far outweighed my fear of being beaten. Through all of this, I was able to rationalize why I was here. I went back to that part of my brain that believed that love is not a real part of my world.

You see, the only love I knew was real, was from my parents and family. One would think that this should have shaped me, what I held onto, what I stood on. No, it wasn’t. What fueled my way of seeing the world, was knowing that my initial contact with this world, the first person to whom I was connected, didn’t love me or at the very least, didn’t want me around to show me the love she had to give. I wasn’t worthy of her heart. So, I went through life feeling disconnected from those that had no loyalty or obligation to love me. If she didn’t want me, why would I think anyone who really didn’t have to love me, would?

So for 3 years, I lived in fear. All while believing that no person had to love me, because they didn’t have to or need to. Their survival wasn’t dependent upon my presence. No one had a reason to stay but the two that adopted me. Was I blaming g myself, not at all. Was I angry with the world, not at all. I just came to the realization that the only people I could count on was my parents, myself and God. Anything anyone did, would not be of a surprise.

Anyway, I was tired of being abused. I was ready to face that fear and leave. I tried once, but I had no real plan. So, I went back and made one. He went to work one day and my family and I went to the apartment he and I shared and packed our cars with as much of my stuff as we could get. The next day, I drove to Atlanta.

After arriving here, I bounced back. I worked on myself, but I have never really dealt with that time in my life. Too much to tell and who really wants to hear about beatings, manipulation and psychological warfare?

About 6 months later, I met the man with whom I would build a life with, the man I love, like I’ve never loved before. He knew my story and was patient. (Some years later we had a daughter, added to his 3 other children from his ex-wife.)

Fast forward a year or so (after meeting him) and my sister calls, she tells me my nephew died. I fly home to be with my family. I had never had nieces and nephews before meeting my biological family. Upon meeting them, I took on the role of auntie and never looked back. My nephew was beyond a sweetheart. He was kind, gentle and funny. He loved me as much as one could and the same for me, may God be pleased with him. The day of the funeral arises and my sister makes me sit with her and my other siblings. I was reluctant, even though we were blood.

After the funeral, we return to mama’s house. A lot of the family I hadn’t met, were all there. I can finally meet my aunts and uncles, cousins and whatnot, even though it was a sad occasion. As I was sitting in the living room, I realized that mama wasn’t anywhere around, nor had she been present since we left the funeral. I just rationalized it to her grieving, she did just lose her grandchild. However, I soon realized no one knew who I was, no one. Mama’s sister sat in front of me and had no clue, that I was her niece; her sister’s daughter. Mama had told no one but her children. And now she was in a situation where she either had to face the world with me or hide to keep her secret.

The only word I could use to describe what I felt, was abandoned. I felt as if, once again I was left alone, no explanation, no answers. I cried so hard, I had to leave.

Where am I now, as a woman, now a mother myself? I expect no loyalty from anyone, however I give it, wholeheartedly. I love my mama, she gave me the best gift; life. She did what she needed to do for herself and her family and I accept that. However, I am one that has low expectations of others, when it comes to loyalty and commitment. This is a direct result of my beginnings.

Do I see myself as unworthy of such things, absolutely not. I just don’t expect others to give what my biological mother, couldn’t give. If SHE couldn’t, how can I have an expectation that another human being could.

Don’t worry, I hold myself in high regard. My overall outlook is not indicative of low self-esteem. I know, not think, that I am an extremely intelligent woman. I know, not think, that many woman admire me for my intelligence and strength. I own my goodness.

Do I have hang ups, of course, we all do. Might they control certain areas of my life, yes they do. Am I working on them, not as much as I could be.

As for relationships, I engage a bit different than most. Some may say that I approach them from a low mental and lack of confidence standpoint. No, I approach them in a way that makes me feel secure. However, I have always been one to walk out without thought, nor do I look back. (Hey, that sounds familiar.) So I know my limit and act accordingly.

I am one that despises confrontation, therefore I walk away or stay quiet. I aim to please in every area of my life and I am loyal to a fault. This is a recipe for disrespect. Many take these attributes as weaknesses and use them to their advantage. Once I see, that a person, who claims to love me and claims loyalty, uses my own personality as a weapon for their own personal gain, I no longer have confidence in their longevity. Even though I never expect anyone I encounter to stay long, I always leave a sliver of space. That space is filled with a “maybe they will be different from how I believe people to be” type of hope. Once I am taken advantage of or disrespected in the slightest, that space is gone.

I’m not sure how tragic this may be, but losing that confidence doesn’t sadden me, it actually makes me feel better. I feel as though, my point has been proven. I have never fully expressed these sentiments, so I’m unaware who I am trying to prove anything to, but that’s the best way I can word those feelings.

It might be said that I work to make things end. That’s not true at all, I know I work very hard to maintain and grow my relationships, friendly and intimates. Although I work hard, I know there is a part I me that is disconnected, an area where few can pierce, a space that I refuse to open. I’ll speak on that in another writing.

Don’t mistake these sentiments as a hatred or a dislike for my mama. I love her, so very much. I love my brother’s and sisters and all of those I am biologically related. I am just sharing my truth. To my parents, the family I grew up with, amongst and truly love, I thank you.

Being adopted is a blessing, it shows you there are strangers that seek to love. In the event that your adoptive family are ones of good integrity, remember to use that pain as the fuel to keep you moving. The storm is rough, but there isn’t one storm that lasts forever. Our path after the storm is the determining factor to our success; mentally, physically and spiritually (not necessarily religious).

Here it is, a glimpse into who I am and why I am.

I have so much more to share, but that’s next time.

By: Taqwetta “AtlmaryJ” Crawley

Email: atlmaryj@gmail.com

Check out  Taqwetta’s blog

http://atlmaryj.blogspot.com/

Self Help Article
http://theurbanrealist.com/relax-3-steps-on-how-to-recycle-your-anger/

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Pamela K.

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BIO: Pamela is an adult adoptee who resides in Lexington, KY. She’s a Iowa native but considers Kentucky her home. Pamela is a proud mother of 3 amazing children. Keila, Damia & Damond. They keep her young and make her world go around.She is a private caregiver and has been in this field for 11 years. She has been caring for multiple elderly people in that time, but has worked closely with a stroke patient. She is a huge part of her life and considers her career to be very rewarding.  Pamela loves the simple things in life like hot tea, nature, and the sunrises and sunsets. Her love for the sky goes all the way back to being a little girl searching for her birth mother. Knowing she was under the same sky she was made her feel close to her even when she was far away. Pamela loves connecting with her fellow adoptees and shares her journey with the world at Adoptee In Recovery. She wants the world to know that with God all things are possible! Never give up hope in finding your family!

Content Warning: The following article you are about to read may contain written material of a serious factual nature that may be disturbing to some individuals. Reader discretion is advised.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

WHAT IT COST TO BE ME:

Adoptee in Recovery

RELINQUISHMENT & BEYOND

I can only imagine what that day was like when my birth mother found out she was pregnant with me on that cold winter day in December of 1973.

I can speculate due to everything being kept a secret from me and never hearing the truth from her but I know she was 27 years old at the time.  I’ve heard bits and pieces from others who were close to my birth mother over the years. I know the pregnancy was kept a secret which tells me my birth mother was ashamed and possibly had fear wondering what others would think of her. I always wondered WHY she kept it a secret, even from my own biological father.  It was said that she had a drunkin affair with a married man who was approx. 10 years older than her. He was a close friend of the family. I was told my birth mother was never seen without a drink in her hand, including her pregnancy with me. I can only guess she rejected the pregnancy in many aspects.  She knew from the beginning she wasn’t going to keep me.  Why bother bonding to the baby inside who spent 9 months drinking every drink she consumed. I was bonding with her even if she didn’t bond with me.  I know my birth mother had gone through a divorce not long before I was conceived. I was told she hadn’t healed from that divorce and it might have had an impact on her surrendering me for adoption. If I was to take my guess, it would be her having an affair with a married man which would have been extremely shameful back in those days.

Knowing these things I have been able to have a better understanding of WHY

You might ask WHY that is so important.

 It would be ignorant for me to try to convince someone who doesn’t want to understand but for those who have the willingness to TRY…

Let me just say if you didn’t know the beginning of your life and your story it leaves a gaping wound that will never heal. It’s impossible to know where you’re headed if you don’t know where you come from. It’s impossible for a tree to grow without roots. Without roots I was floating around in life trying to find that attachment, that bond that was between a mother and her child. I had a hole in my heart.

For me, I was alive but not living.

I was dead inside not knowing my TRUTH.

Finding the WHY has helped me understand my birth mothers decision in a more profound way. I’ve been able to accept it for what it is and work on moving forward with my life. I’ve been able to forgive her. How can I forgive her when I don’t know what I’m forgiving? Not knowing the TRUTH has only HURT me MORE.

I can’t let go if I don’t know what I’m letting go of.

None of us can.

I have always obsessed with that day. August 13th 1974.  What was that room like the day I came into this world? My birth mother’s best friend sent her flowers and they were returned to her because my birth mother went into the hospital under an alias name. I wondered if she held me that day? Did she name me?  Was she sad or glad to get this day over with so she could move on with her life?

For most of my life I wished she would have aborted me, my pain was that great. I wished I was never born and I was mad that I was. Why didn’t she abort me when abortion became legalized in 1973 the same year I was conceived? I am lead to believe her views on abortion come from her mother, my biological grandmother trying to abort her baby on her own. The abortion didn’t succeed; instead she had a biological sister who was born mentally challenged due to a botched abortion. She lived her entire life in a nursing home and died in her 50’s. I would think this would give me a sour taste about abortion as well. Everyone’s family has some secrets, and this was one of their many.

Let me share, this family was not a spiritual family. They didn’t know God at all so I don’t think her decision had much to do with the spiritual aspect of taking a life.

I was told she worked up until the day she had me and went back to work the next day. I bet she was relieved she no longer had to hide it. She was told I would have a “Better Life” than what she could give me and I would be adopted by two loving parents who could provide me with more than she ever could.

Her life continued on…

I was all alone in the nursery at St. Frances Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa for the next 4 days experiencing the TRAUMA of being separated from the only thing I ever knew, my birth mother.

My adoptive parents picked me up and the previous time in my life being in utero and being born into the world was erased. The reasons WHY I was relinquished were parts of my story I was supposed to forget about, never to know the truth as long as I was to live. I was never to find out my lineage, history, medical history, who my siblings were.  I was what they considered to be a new born baby with no memory, a blank slate.

On to have the “better life” promised to my birth mother…

THE BETTER LIFE

Please keep in mind I didn’t have ANY of these answers to my questions about my natural family until I was in my 20’s & 30’s. It was all a secret I was never supposed to find out.

I have a new home, a new family and all is good, Right? I even had an older sister from another family that was also adopted into the family I was.

Everything is perfect or so it seems…

Within a year of being adopted my adoptive parents divorced and my adoptive dad moved an hour away, remarried and had 3 step sons to be raised as his own. Left with our adoptive mother, we visited my adoptive dad every other weekend, for holidays and vacations in the summer. I could run and play at my adoptive dads. I was free like a kid should be.

My adoptive mother wanted to be a mother more than anything in this world, but the biggest reason I’ve gathered over the years is so that she wouldn’t have to go to a nursing home when she was elderly. How do I know this? I remember hearing about this from the time I couldn’t remember anything and it was like a reoccurring script she said over and over. At approx. 5 years old I remember finding out I was adopted. I saw a baby being born on the television. I said, “Mommy, I came out of your tummy like that?” She said, “No honey, you came out of another woman’s tummy. She loved you so much she gave you to me so I could be a mommy. You were the greatest gift and a dream come true for me to finally be a mommy!”

I remember not understanding all of this but what I knew was, “This isn’t my real mommy. I have another mommy somewhere out there!” My mind began to obsess over HER. WHO WAS SHE? WHERE WAS SHE? WHAT DID SHE LOOK LIKE? In my little girl mind this had to be a big mistake, and I waited on her to come get me my entire childhood and juvenile years.

What mother would really give their child away and really mean it?

I began to form fantasies about her. Was she a movie star or someone famous? She must be searching for me like I was searching for her. Did I have a twin? I looked for her everywhere I went. I remember searching in my adoptive moms file cabinets over and over looking for information about my birth mother. It had to be in there somewhere! I never did find it but I never stopped searching. Everywhere I went I searched for my birth mother.

Who was my adoptive mom? She tried to better herself by going to nursing school to be a RN. She took joy in planting flowers, watching figure skating and baking during the holidays. We said prayers before meals, went to church and did devotionals from time to time.Sounds idea, right? The hidden side was her being addicted to prescription pain pills, she suffered from depression, manic depressive episodes as well as severe mental illness that went untreated. She never healed from her divorce and her infertility issues which is the reason she was never able to have her own biological children. She tried to commit suicide in front of us multiple times, even laying in the street on one occasion. She would tie us to chairs with dish towels and make us massage her body with lotion all over. There were lists of chores and tasks for us to do, this never ended. We were her personal slaves, and going outside to play for 5 minutes had to be a thought out “escape”. Because of her, I never had a childhood or a mother. There was non-stop conflict and fighting in this home.  I have suffered greatly because of this.

I experienced a lifetime of emotional and mental abuse and trauma in this home that impact me to this day. I had 2 chances in the “Mother Department” and struck out on both chances. Due to the trauma of relinquishment and the trauma that was happening in my home I was a very broken teenager and child. I’ve had a deep mother wound and I never bonded to anyone. Trust issues and PTSD episodes plague my life but I’ve become very good at hiding them from the world. Growing up,  I was in and out of group homes, juvenile lock up and drug and alcohol rehab. I hated the world and everyone in it. I tried to take my own life, without success. I had nothing to live for. I was angry and rage filled for many, many years to come. From the ages of 5-10 my oldest step brother molested me in my adoptive dads home. I never told anyone until I was much older in a therapy session.  From 12 years old alcohol was my best friend until I was 37 years old. This is no surprise sense I started drinking before I was even born into this world. As an adult I managed to get myself in countless abusive relationships. Looking back I had no self love. I felt I was disposable due to my birth mother not wanting me. Labeled as a “gift” did not help matters any! Imagine being a human being being made to feel as if you are a piece of property?

As I got older I began to base my worth on how God feels about me, NOT anyone of this world…but this took MANY YEARS and I was well into my 30’s before this happened.

Alcohol took the pain away, at least for that moment.

It has been said over and over in the adoption community, adoption doesn’t guarantee a better life, only a different one.

My life story is in agreement with this statement.

In 1994 I had a beautiful baby girl who gave me a reason to move forward. She was joy to my life like nothing ever was before. Having a child of my own was the first blood relative I ever laid eyes on. A few years later I gave birth to twins. My kids gave me something to live for.  Having children triggered my curiosity of who my birth family was even more than before. I wondered about my medical history. This not only impacted me, it also impacted my children. How cruel I had no medical history for my children!

I spent 21 years asking my adoptive mother who my birth mother was. She said over and over, “When we get enough money for an attorney we’ll get the sealed records opened, but right now we don’t have enough money”. Finally at 21 years old she came clean and admitted she LIED to me my entire life and she knew how I could find out who my birth mother was. To this day I believe it was God shining his light on me because he KNEW this is something that bothered me on a very deep level.

I NEEDED TO KNOW MY TRUTH!

IT WAS KILLING ME INSIDE NOT KNOWING THE TRUTH!

THE TRUTH FINALLY SURFACES

But not without a fight.

I guess everyone was hoping I would be the “good adoptee” and never ask any questions, be obedient in being “Thankful” I was saved when my own biological mother didn’t want me. I should be grateful I was alive and not an aborted baby. At least I got life, right?

I was far from the good adoptee. In fact, I was the very very BAD ADOPTEE. My spirit, heart and soul have gone against how the “ADOPTION INDUSTRY” has wanted me to respond. This goes all the way back to the moment I found out the truth about being adopted. To top it off the WORLD treats me as LESS THAN for simply wanting to know the TRUTH about where I came from. They make it apparent because of the way they treat me as if I’m just an angry adoptee who had a bad experience.

Imagine for a moment how that might feel?

Like I’m nothing, and I don’t matter nor do my feelings. It doesn’t help any that my adoptive parents have never had one talk with me about how I have felt being adopted. Society hasn’t had any “Safe Spaces” for adoptees until recently. Between these things I have felt like I was adopted not as a human being with real feelings, but a little baby that has no say so.  Like a piece of property. Nothing is REAL, living a pretend life. I am a child for 18 years. Do you know how fast that goes?  A baby that had no choice and no voice grows up into a living, breathing, feeling, ADULT. I’m supposed to grow up THANKFUL for this LIFE yet the WORLD doesn’t care how I feel. My adoptive parents got their “FREE PASS” at being parents at the expense of my life, my history, my truth and my healing.

It never was about ME.

I AM ALIVE.

I HAVE FEELINGS.

I MATTER.

I’M NOT A BABY ANYMORE!

I was able to meet both my birth parents and after the initial meeting with both of them they shut the door and rejected any further communication. The best days of my life meeting them turned into the worst. I had no idea I would experience a 2nd rejection.

Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!

There is no real preparation for THIS!

My birth mother was deeply upset and guilt ridden the “better life” wasn’t better at all. She said if she would have known I was going to be raised in poverty in a single parent household she would have kept me and raised me herself. She was an alcoholic, and died all alone. She was a hurting woman. I tried to reach out to her over the years and she declined any contact.

My birth father still doesn’t acknowledge me even after DNA testing has confirmed he is my biological father. I am his only daughter. He is also an alcoholic and a very hurting broken man.

Although I am extremely grateful I was able to lay eyes on the 2 people who brought me into this world, because some adoptees never get that chance rejection from them BOTH has hurt me beyond words can express.

Where does this leave me?

Broken hearted & feeling alone in this world.

“With God, You are never alone.”

TRUE!

I get peace in this!

I am extremely thankful for my kids, because without them I would not be here. I can see that my experience impacts them in many ways but I do try my best to hide it. It’s not their problem to have to tend to how I feel. I don’t want them to worry about me or my feelings. They are kids, they shouldn’t have too like I had to growing up.  They know a fraction of how deep my wounds are because unfortunately they have seen me cry about my birth mother, and my birth father. Never getting to meet any grandparents or have any loving memories with any of my biological family has hurt, and hurt deeply. It does not just go away! It will last a lifetime! My kids have their own wounds because half of them is half of me. Adoption impacts generations. It moves far beyond a cute little baby and making an infertile couple happy to be parents. A dream come true is an adoptees greatest loss which is rarely acknowledged.

I know that one day my kids will leave too because that’s how life works. We raise our kids the best we can, and they spread their wings and fly high. They become independent and move on to do amazing things with their lives. This is a good thing and I support them in all that they do.

So what is an adoptee to do when we are surrendered, and had dysfunction in both adoptive and biological families? When we are rejected 2x when we finally find who we are looking for all these years? When our disappointment is so deep and raw, and our broken heart starts to heal but triggers open the wound right back up again? What are we supposed to do when we simply can’t bond with “people” because of the original trauma and we keep what could be close relationships at a distance because closeness is a potential abandonment? What are we supposed to do when we “divorced” the adopters and we are rejected by the biologicals leaving us with no family?

BREAKING FREE

Resulting in Adoptee in Recovery

The first step was to admit all the places I am broken…

I could not do this in the fog!

What worked for me was to pack up my small children in 2005 and moved across the country far away from everyone. Talk about a leap in faith!  I have never regretted it, and never looked back.  I had to begin to learn WHO I AM after all the trauma, grief & loss. I’ve had to move states away and what I have learned is I’m not like anyone in either family. I am who God created me to be. At times, I’m still stuck in limbo as to who that is but I consider myself a work in progress and growing in that area.

Packing up and leaving everything was not an easy decision. I had no support aside from my best friend, God love her. I have learned that just because THESE THINGS HAPPENED doesn’t mean it needs to determine the rest of my life.

THIS IS TRUE FOR ALL OF US!

It’s up to me to write the next chapters of my [HER]-story.

No matter how adoptees slice this journey it’s painful.

Acceptance of this is key.

I keep waiting on it to get better, and it has a little bit. Healing is possible and I’ve spend a lot of time working on healing. Visit this link for a complete list of Healing Tools that have helped me. I hope and pray they might help you too.

There are so many aspects to how adoptees are emotionally and mentally impacted by adoption in general, most therapists don’t even understand it all. Adoptees must stick together to help one another.

Once society and adoptive parents understand  that love is not all we need adoptees will seek the healing they need and deserve at a much younger age. It’s a shame so many adoptees are in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and on before they start healing. Some never heal and take the hurt to their graves because they don’t have their truth or healing tools. This deeply saddens me but I do have hope that as adoptees continue to SHARE things will start to change.

Some commit suicide because it’s just too much pain to handle! We can’t ignore these statistics!

WHY IS THE WORLD STALLING US FROM HEALING BY WITHHOLDING OUR TRUTH? 

Help us get our TRUTH so we can HEAL.

PLEASE?

April 2009 I gave my life to Christ and began to grow in my relationship with him. I was still partying and drinking alcohol to numb the pain of abandonment & rejection from my birth parents and life experiences. Alcohol took the pain away temporarily but the next day it was the same routine. It took me many years to grow in my relationship with God and learn who I was in Him and I’m still learning! He loves me no matter what my adoptive parents and birth parents did or didn’t do. He loves me just as I am, not as I should be. He loves me all the times I would go out and party and show up at church Sunday morning with a hangover. He knew my heart. I was seeking Him and growing in Him even as I was still kept in bondage in my old ways and old habits. This is why we should never judge anyone for any reason! We have no idea where they are in their journey! 

August 13, 2012

WHEN I STOPPED DRINKING I CAME OUT OF THE FOG ABOUT MY ADOPTEE EXPERIENCE! THE TRUTH HIT ME LIKE A TON OF BRICKS!

“I was breaking generational curses from family I don’t even know!”- Pastor Marion Dalton

That is a pretty big deal if you think about it!

I decided to throw in the towel on my drinking career and started a recovery ministry called, Celebrate Recovery. Through God this ministry has saved my life. I spent 3.5 years in leadership not only working on my issues, but helping others work through theirs.

This was an eye awakening experience for me. I learned that abandonment, rejection and abuse of any kind are the leading root issues of people’s dysfunctional lifestyle habits. Of course being an adoptee I learned my issues were classic examples! I spent the next 4 years working on ME & MY ISSUES!

It has not been easing feeling all these feelings SOBER! My biological mother handed me over to strangers to raise? – Swallow that pill why don’t you!  It has been extremely difficult, but I was determined the next chapter and the rest of my life was not going to be like the first 37 years! Not just for me, but for my kids and future grandkids.

I deserve it and they deserve it! I knew God had so much more for me than living with a broken heart and in addiction!

Where am I today November 27, 2016?

I’m 42 years old and 4 years living a sober lifestyle!

IF IT CAN HAPPEN FOR ME IT CAN HAPPEN FOR YOU! 

The only hope I have is in God and His word. I have faith and believe in His word and trust him. Some days seem harder than other’s but I have been so rejected and let down by this world I refuse to put my faith in anything but God. He is the way, the truth and the life. At the end of each day I know when no one else understands, he understands. He gives me the drive to move forward and to share my story for my fellow adoptees.

I have learned that if I had to experience all I have in life in order to write and share my story and let other adoptees know God is here & he loves them then it has been worth it.  I want them to know their fellow adoptees are here to support them. If I had to experience all I did just for my adoptive mother to introduce me to God, then it was worth it. I will say her version was extremely “off” but she did make the introduction where I would not have learned about him otherwise.

Does that take the pain away?

NO.

Living in the unknown being heartbroken to living in the KNOWN after finding the TRUTH and still being heartbroken I would say its 2 different types of pain.

BOTH ARE EXTREMELY PAINFUL.

The fact that I’m still alive to type this is a miracle. Adoptees are strong! Maybe some of you don’t feel like it but I’m here to tell you if you are alive YOU ARE STRONG.

I’m confident God knows my hurts, and my pain and he has helped me heal in many aspects.  He also knows my heart and the joy I get from my kids, and the excitement I get from the thought of future grandkids.

Please understand that all adoptees have a different story. Some are still in the fog and are happy to be adopted and some are out of the fog and share their truth brightly. Regardless of each story, I have learned to embrace each adoptee right where they are. In the good and the bad and the painful, they deserve to be heard and respected. Living a life where our feelings don’t matter finding a place where they do matter is extremely liberating! When you reach out to me you don’t have to pretend! Take your mask off and be REAL! How has adoption impacted YOU?!

Better yet, share your story at www.howdoesitfeeltobeadopted.com

Today I share my voice on how it feels to be adopted so my other fellow adoptees will know they aren’t alone. So I can share the love of Christ with them. Some people feel that just because I have Christ in my life should mean I am 100% completely free from pain and completely healed. This is not true for me at this stage in my life. Things have gotten easier, but triggers are everywhere. When one wound heals it’s ripped right back open by a trigger! It’s a cycle and I’ve accepted it’s here to stay. Learning how to handle the triggers is something I’m working on. I will always be in recovery because of these things and recovery is a life long process.

TODAY I NO LONGER DRINK TO NUMB MY PAIN! 

I’M FACING IT HEAD ON!

 I will just share, My God guides me in writing my truth and sharing it with the world. He is the simple ONLY reason I am alive and here to share this story today. He never said I had to make it all rosy to make others feel comfortable. Those days are over. I will always be true to myself and my fellow adoptees. I am not sugar coating anything to make others feel comfortable. My truth is my truth and in the end it’s what set me free. I’m working daily on being thankful for this life. God knows why it’s been so hard. He knows the truth. Don’t think for a moment he doesn’t cry tears for every single child that is separated from their mother. When we cry about every mother and baby being separated from their biological families, he’s crying with us.

John 8:32

So for me…..

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted?

Lonely & Painful & Acceptance of a Lifetime of Recovery

Pamela A. Karanova

Please reach out to Pamela on her blog: Adoptee In Recovery

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Tammy K. Murphy

 

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BIO: My name is Tammy K. Murphy.  I have two children.  I am currently a senior at Ball State University.  I am taking Psychology.  I want to be a counselor.  I want to counsel adult adoptees.  Being a counselor is something I have always wanted to do since I was in my twenties.  I like the idea of talking to people about their problems and helping them see thing from a different perspective.

 

 

Content Warning: The following article you are about to read may contain written material of a serious factual nature that may be disturbing to some individuals. Reader discretion is advised.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

“Jane Doe”

For the first two months of my life I did not have a home or name.  The family secret was revealed when I was seven years old.  One of my friends said it to hurt my feelings.  I asked my mother about it, she said it wasn’t true.  When I was ten, I started asking questions about it again.  My mother would be drunk on Saturday night and tell me I was adopted and about how the mother had just left me there at the hospital and left with a man.  She also told me that I should hate the woman who gave birth told me because of what she had done.  I didn’t know how to hate her because I did not understand hate, just like at that time I did not fully understand how they had become my parents.

Then on Sunday morning when she was sober, she would tell me that she was just playing and I wasn’t adopted.  When I was twelve it was said again in school during lunchtime.  By now I understood what adoption meant and took on the mindset, let me accept this because I was helping my adoptive mother out by giving her what she could not have, a child.  I started to get angry because of my situation and began fighting in school.  I also started drinking at the age of eleven to deal with being adopted.

By the eighth grade, I started to think about suicide a lot. 

This lasted until I was about sixteen or seventeen.  My middle and high school years were extremely hard, when this should have been the time that I was primping and posing in the mirror to see what I looked like, I started hating looking in the mirror because every time I saw myself I was reminded I did know where I came from or how I did not look like anybody in the family I was being raised in.  Before I could figure out who I was in the world as Tammy K. Murphy and what I wanted to be when I grew up, I realized my name most likely would have been something else if she would have kept me.

When I was younger I used to love looking at myself in the mirror.

 Today, at forty-eight years old, I still deal with mirror loss and just recently bought another mirror.  I hate seeing myself in the mirror or through any kind of reflection whether it’s the car window or the glass in my screen door.  My self-esteem has been deeply affected because I am adopted.  I have always felt ugly.  Being adopted has also affected me in a very negative way when it comes to relationships.  I avoid them also.  I do not like to let anyone get too close to me.  I feel that the mother did not take that into consideration when she decided to give me up for adoption

Recently, I was thinking how adoption is supposed to be this good and wonderful thing of providing a child a home with two parents but the adoptee has numerous problems because of it and that does not make sense to me.

I met the birth mother when I was twenty-eight years old in 1998.  She told me she gave me up for adoption because the father was molesting one of the other daughters and he was physically abusive to her.  When I met him in 2003, he said her reasons were not true.  So, upon hearing two different stories, who do you believe?  I did not tell her that I had experienced what she supposedly keeping me from because I felt it was not any of her business.  I only wanted to know why she had given me up for adoption.  I did not want a relationship with her then nor do I desire to have one with her now.  Upon meeting her, all I had ever heard was she abandoned me and left with a man.

Right before I found out who she was, I was told she told people I had died.  I’m sure it was a surprise to her family when a funeral service could not be planned because there wasn’t a baby to be buried.  When I asked, did she abandon me or told people I died, she said the man she left with was my father and her answer telling people I had died was, “You weren’t supposed to find that out.

After having her phone number for a while, I called her in 2011 to say hi to her and she told me she was not my mother and asked why was I calling her?  After that I felt I had to question all over again, who is my real mother?  Ironically, I saw the mother a few months after that at her mother and brother’s funerals.  They died six months apart from each other.  At her brother’s funeral, I tried telling her that I forgave her for what she had done.  But that did not go over very well and we ended up arguing.  It was at that point I decided to not make any contact with her again and to just let it go and deal with being adopted the best I can.

Being adopted has been very hard for me to accept. 

Sometimes I have felt that she should have gotten an abortion because if she had I wouldn’t have had to feel so negative about my life.  Lately, I have been remembering thoughts and feelings from my past about me being adopted that was buried a long time ago in the back of my mind.  Recently, I realized and recognized that those memories are coming back because of school.  Being in class around the younger students reminds me of when living in the house I lived in did not feel like home.  As I got older I began to feel living with my adoptive parents and saying they were my parents made me feel like I was living a lie.  As a teenager, I had always like everybody else’s life seemed so much better than mine.  I felt like mine wasn’t it is supposed to be because I had brothers and sisters that I should have been living with not with these strangers as an only child.

I think those memories are coming back because I think I have fallen in love for the first time. Having feelings for someone is new for me and I’m not used to it.  I had always been in it halfway or more like the wrong way. I was always in the interaction, sexually not emotionally.  I say interaction and not relationship because I avoid emotional relationships with men.

Whenever I feel someone is trying to get to know me or get too close to me, I tend to avoid the person and shut them out.  Being adopted took that away from me, I feel as though I will never know what it is too love someone or let myself be loved.

Tammy K. Murphy

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Nicole Blank

me1BIO:I was born in Hanover, PA 45 years ago and was adopted by a loving family eight weeks later.  I have since found and reunited with both sides of my biological family, though reunion has been a mixed bag at best for me.  I am a member of many adoptee groups online and hope to continue to quietly inspire my fellow comrades as so many have inspired me.  Sending out peace, love and light to all who need it – and “may we never back down from our words which we put to voice”.  Nicole Blank, 45, Adoptee

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

 An Adoptee Prelude

Nicole Blank

“We are the granddaughters of the witches you weren’t able to burn.” – Tish Thawner

So many stories about adoption are written from the perspective of adoptive parents or potential adoptive parents. I read so many of those and say – did you ever ask how adoption has impacted or will impact the child being adopted? ?

It must be said that no matter how much love a new family has to offer a child, nothing can ever repair the wound and subsequent scar incurred when our first family left us. All adoptive parents must be prepared to soothe that scar which at best, will fade but never heal. And often, in the most trying times, that scar will tear open again and the healing must start from the beginning.

I have said it many times – all adoptees are the walking wounded.

For me, being adopted is part of my identity.  It is never something that you can just “leave behind” at the door.  One of my earliest memories was sneaking out of the Sunday school class because my mother was late to pick me up – I couldn’t have been more than four or five.  I crept all the way up the hallway to the main church to see if I could find her, only to see her walking out the door (which turned out to be the door to the altar for communion, but at the time to me it was just a big door, and she surely was leaving me).  I ran screaming across the front of the church calling to her and when I got to the other side, I was sobbing and asking if she was leaving me.  I can’t even imagine what the pastor and parishioners must have thought.  Nobody understands that hasn’t been in our position – most of us were relinquished at the moment of birth and you carry that trauma inside you throughout life.  To me – every person is a potential abandoner, whether it be parents, friends, a spouse, an employer.  I still worry to this day that everyone will change their mind about me and jump ship.  As much as I can say – this is not normal behavior – I cannot stop this thought pattern.  It is a part of me.

Adopted people have been to found to be four times more likely to commit suicide than those who are not adopted. 

We also fill up therapists’ offices and psychiatric hospitals with eating disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction, and other anxiety and depressive disorders.  And yet we are expected by society at large to be “grateful” to have been adopted and “saved” from abortion, our biological families, or being killed at birth in a dumpster (I was told all three things and more on many an occasion). Not many people outside of the adoption community itself will acknowledge the trauma that we carry.  The wounds which no balm can reach.  The tears cried out of sight from others when we are judged, gossiped about, and even unfriended when we dare to speak up and tell our truths.

We matter.

Our truths are real. 

Adoption is,  often,  a millstone around our necks.

To those in both our adoptive and biological families, our company of friends, our spiritual circles and beyond – please acknowledge and put forward our truths. That we were born into this world holding our own Scarlet Letter As – not for Adultery as in the timeless Nathaniel Hawthorne novel but for Adoption instead – and those who seek our silence and submission will find that we, too, have found our voices much as Hester Prynne did.

Adoption, when absolutely necessary,  can be beneficial for all parties.  But until all can accept that adopting a child comes on the heels of a great and tragic loss, no one can truly be saved.

Nicole Blank

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Pat Reuter

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BIO: My name is Pat Reuter and I manage a Mail Order business and help with our farming business. I love the farm and the open space and privacy of it and sharing it with my husband. I am a mother of 4 children and a grandmother of 8 grandchildren and love them so much.  I enjoy in my free time gardening, golfing, reading and knitting. I hope when I retire to volunteer for many organizations as my yearning has always been to help people in any way I can.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

Hi my name is Pat; I’m 58 years old and I am adopted. I would consider myself one of the lucky ones. I had wonderful, loving adoptive parents. I was raised to be strong but mostly to love and respect others. I had this normal childhood but always wondered who I was. I yearned for my birth family and felt unsettled most of my life. My Dad offered many times to help me locate family but my Mom was always frightened and concerned about the subject. Somehow with this wonderful life I still felt empty at times.

I got married and had four wonderful children and life became so busy. I pushed all these thoughts to the back burner.  My son was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25 and our lives turned upside down. It was off to Mayo Clinic to save his life. At every doctor visit with him I would be asked for medical history and I would say I was adopted. I realized for the first time in my life I hated the word adopted. It kept me from being the Mother I should have been as I felt like I was failing my son and I felt so much guilt. The second time he was diagnosed with another tumor I had 3 doctors ask me to find my birth family if I could for genetic purposes. Well I hired a private detective and the fear and anxious feelings just kept multiplying.

Well my birth mother was found and had died many years earlier and everything from there on was a dead end. My life has never been the same since. I had this awful emptiness and anger after that and all the things I hid for years came bubbling to the surface. I grieved a mother that I never met and wondered how she could not have loved me. I wanted for one time in my life to look like someone as it’s like you have no face or identity. It all seemed so wrong and at times I felt like I was losing my mind. For the first time I felt weak and confused and nowhere to turn to. I believe if my husband had not been there for me I don’t know where I would be today.  He always listened and tried so hard to understand but he just couldn’t because he isn’t adopted.

I then met my first adoptee on Facebook.

He was looking for a birth brother and I liked his page. I felt a spark coming back into my life and I joined adoptee groups and met so many people just like me. It filled me with purpose and strength again. Many of them sparked my thoughts with loving God again as I had lost my way with that also. I had a group of people for the first time that understood me.

I guess you could say my adoptee friends saved my life.

 This story has been hard for me but it’s time to be silent no more. I have felt through this new phase in my life even adoptees don’t always understand. I believe there is much bitterness from some for the lives they have lived and I feel guilt and compassion for that as I did have good adoptive parents.  I have purpose now but still resent that I don’t have medical history for myself, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren someday. I will no longer let this tear me down and am ready to stand up and ask for our Civil and Constitutional RIGHT to our Original Birth Certificates. My future is to pursue committees and groups to strive for our rights that we are not allowed.

I want and deserve the respect to know who I am.

Pat Reuter

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Maria Williams

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BIO: My name is Maria Williams. I am married to a wonderful man.  I have three beautiful daughters. I tried to work in Social Work but there were too many triggers for me.  I did work with children in preschool as a teacher.  I love sunrises and sunsets.

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

My Adoption Story

 I was adopted when I was seven years old.  My adopted parents had gotten me as a foster child when I was 16 months and 16 days old.  (The day turned out to be my biological brother’s 3rd birthday.)  Funny I guess how things work out sometimes.

As a child I was very lonely.

I was raised as an only child and my adoptive parents were older.  I truly never fit in any where.  Not with my adoptive family (except for my adoptive dad).  That is for another story.

I had some physical problems especially since I did not walk until I was past 2 years old.  It seemed to me that I was always mad fun of as a child.  Never any good at any sports and then some of the other kids found out I was adopted. Then they really started making fun about that. They made comments, least their parents kept them and wanted them. Always making me wonder what was wrong with me even more than I already did.

What did I do that was so horrible as a baby that my own Mother did not ever want me.

My adoptive parents tried to make me feel special especially on the day I was adopted.  It was like an added birthday or Christmas.  How they wanted Me and took Me in.  Well I guess it took some time for the reality of the fact that they had a child that was legally theirs and the new rubbed off as some would say.  Then the true reality set in.  The way I see it, my adoptive mom could tell that I was not going to fit her special mold she had in her mind.  She wanted a carbon copy of her and as hard as I tried at first I could not be that person.  Also, being reminded that I needed to be grateful for being adopted and that was done more times than I can count by more family and friends of my adoptive mom.

Then I was also reminded how awful my biological mother was for leaving me in foster care and only seeing me one time.  I was already wondering what I had done to make her not want me and this just added to this so much more.

Not only did I not fit in I was never good enough for my adoptive mom.  And that was in the way I looked, acted and with my grades. She even introduced me as her “adopted daughter”.  It was like see what I did.  She never saw anything wrong with even when people would ask her why she did it.

Not knowing my medical history did not really bother me until I was in college and I had a kidney infection.  When I went to a different doctor and he asked if kidney problems ran in the family.  I automatically answered “NO”.  The friend that was with me reminded me that the doctor was not referring to my adoptive family. The doctor told me that I needed to have medical information and that it was extremely important.  I went home and asked my adoptive mom and she said she did not know anything.  To my surprise she was not even interested in discussing the subject with me.  I really did not know what to think.

I contacted someone I had met in grade school that said she was from my biological family.  She looked into it for me and found out that kidney infections did run on my biological mother’s side of the family.

I was in no way ready to make any contact with my biological mother.  Way too many negative emotions involved at the time. Dealing with my feelings about my biological mother at this time was not a good thing.  I had no one to talk to.  I was brought up that you did not tell people your problems or your feelings because no one gives a damn.

I had decided to go into Social Work so I could help people.  Well my idea of helping people and the agency I was working for (which was also the one I was adopted through) were on different ends of the spectrum. I was told that I would never find anything about my case if that was the reason I was there.  It was locked up in the director’s office. I answered truthfully.  At the time I was not looking.

Well God has a great sense of humor.

He proved it to me about eighteen months later.

At the time I was helping out in the office with filing and opening new cases.  Well at the agency at the time had an index card file on every case.  Well on Friday as was my routine I began to file the cards for that week. Well all of a sudden there was my case card staring at me.  I finished my filing and went back and read my card. I found out that I had two sisters and a brother all older than me that I did not know about.  That my parents had been married at the time of my birth.  Also that they divorced.  I also discovered that my birth mother had kept my sisters and brother.  They did live in an orphanage for a little over six years.

The emotions were all mixed up inside me. 

Happy to find out that I had siblings, but that old feeling of why was I not good enough resurfaced stronger than ever. The first person I talked to from my biological family was my oldest sister.  At the time she was so happy to hear from me and could not wait to see me in person.  We met that day.  I thought I was starting to feel like I finally belonged somewhere.  As soon as my maternal grandmother found out that I had contacted family she wanted a family reunion.  I learned quickly that when she wanted something done, it was done immediately.  I was still not sure about meeting my birth mother, but what to be was to be.  I met my birth mother, my other sister, my brother and his wife, my grandmother, two aunts and my nieces.

When my birth mother and I were finally alone I did not wait.  I wanted answers to why and what happened.  Well to my total surprise she told me it was her life and her decisions and it did not affect my life in the least. I was quick to inform her that if I had not looked like her so much and had my brother and I met we could have decided we wanted to marry.  How would have felt when she had to tell us we could not because we where brother and sister.  She was not impressed and did not appreciate my wanting information.  Especially information on my birth father who was her first husband.

Another subject I was told was none of my business.  To stay away from him at all cost.  I have never been one to be told to stay away from something or leave it alone if I thought I needed to know about it.  All of my immediate birth family had had the opportunity to make their own decisions on the matter. Why shouldn’t I?  This is something I seem to not be able to get other people to understand.

When I finally told my adoptive mom and dad my adoptive mom was so furious.  I knew it was not going to go over well with her.  When I talked to my dad he said he was happy that I had found them.  There was a hurt in his eyes I will never forget though. Then when my adoptive mom started naming off my siblings names that she had told me before she did not know anything about my family.  I was thrown into a situation I was not even prepared for.  I had never expected her to lie to me about something like this to me.  I felt like I had been betrayed in away that I could not explain or even dream of.

I moved out of my parents home shortly after that. There was just too much stress and something had to give.  And it was me.  It was the best thing I could have done.  I still love(d) my parents but I needed to be on my own.

I got to know my sisters even though we did not live close to each other.  (Looking back I can see that I pushed way hard to “fit” in the family.)  I was doing this all on my own. If there was help out there at the time I did not know about it.

There were times I felt like I was starting to “fit in” with my family and then there were times I just knew I was just looking in a window of sorts.  It hurt back then and still does to this day.

There have been many ups and downs in my life as an adoptee.  It wasn’t to much later in my life that I finally got medical history information that I should have had that would have helped along the way.

As for as my original birth certificate I finally received that just a couple of years ago.  I had been told at one point in my life that I would never see a copy of it.  Well I got the last laugh. The governor in the state I was born in and adopted in signed into law that adoptees could receive original birth certificate (not certified).  When I finally received my copy I sat and cried before I opened it.  It states on the copy it is not a certified copy because as far as the government I was never “born”.

Well how can that be because I am here and I am writing this. 

Makes no sense to me at all.

Maria Williams

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Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Michele Leavitt

micheleBIO: Michele Leavitt, a poet and essayist, is also a high school dropout, adoptee, hepatitis C survivor, and former trial attorney. Her essays have appeared in venues including Guernica and Catapult. Poems appear most recently in North American Review and Rogue Agent. She is the author of the Kindle Singles memoir, Walk Away.

Content Warning: The following article you are about to read may contain written material of a serious factual nature that may be disturbing to some individuals. Reader discretion is advised.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

Originally Published on Guernica

Hidden in a Suitcase

In search of the mother who gave her up for adoption, the author finds six siblings instead. Decades later, she contemplates the drug addiction that cost many of them their lives.

*                      *                     *

The trail winds around the back of Quaker Hill in rural Maine. It takes less than an hour to get to the summit, but I pack a bottle of water and some grapes and my notebook. This time I also pack my nephew’s letter.

The tradition of letter-writing survives in families like mine, whose loved ones are spread out over the country in county jails, state prisons, and federal penitentiaries. In prisons, smartphones are contraband, so stamps are still currency. My nephew, Alan Michael, is in a county jail awaiting trial. He can be held indefinitely without bail because he was on parole from a state prison sentence at the time of his latest arrest. He’s twenty-five years old, and he’s written me dozens of letters over the last seven years. I always write back, eventually.

The forest is still damp from last week’s monumental thunderstorms, and a new generation of mosquitos has hatched. Far off the coast, Hurricane Cristobal pinwheels north and then east. It hasn’t made landfall, but its outlier winds cascade through the forest’s branches and down into the hollows, keeping the mosquitos mostly at bay. When I get to the top of the hill, the forest gives way to open fields marked off by lines of hardwood trees. Here, the wind is loud enough to silence everything.

From the summit, I can see hay fields and forests, a church spire poking out of trees, and more green hills. I pull my nephew’s handwritten letter out of my backpack. Blue ink on narrow-ruled white paper. His penmanship is neat and legible.

Dear Aunt Michele, well here I am yet again. I suppose that adds me to Georgia’s 87 percent recidivism rate. Not blaming anyone but myself for why I am back here.

At the end, he has signed himself “Alan Michael,” although I know he dropped the Michael part when he was in high school. The compound name was too Southern, like Billy Bob, and his mother had moved him to rural Idaho when he was eight to get him away from our family in Savannah.

It’s been more than twenty years since the day I met him at the Savannah train station.

To ease my anxiety at the prospect of meeting my family for the first time, I’d spent the twenty-two-hour train ride from Boston to Savannah reviewing case files from my law practice. Born in the South, but adopted into a family from the North as an infant, I spent my childhood feeling as if I were wearing a flour sack when everyone around me was in silk. My adoptive father was fond of calling me an “enigma,” a word I had to look up the first time he said it, when I was a twelve-year-old drug user toting around a worn copy of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. The nineteenth-century novels a librarian had recommended to me did as much for my sense of well-being as the Librium my pediatrician prescribed when I rebelled against my parents, and the codeine-heavy cough syrup I started drinking directly from the bottle at age nine.

Instead of being ruled by the brain disease of true addiction, I was born lucky, resistant.

By the time I was thirty-four, I had owned a successful law practice for ten years, which gave me the freedom to take time off when I felt like it, but that success came only after I had dropped out of high school as a teenager and run away from home. After ten months of living on the streets, I returned to my adoptive parents’ house, took up where I’d left off in high school, and then moved on to college and law school. I kept on reading and getting high on everything from weed to heroin because I enjoyed it, but I was able to abstain when I needed to attend to an assignment or a job interview. Instead of being ruled by the brain disease of true addiction, I was born lucky, resistant. Importantly, I had become what is known as a chippy: an occasional user. By the time I passed the bar exam, I had a wide circle of acquaintances from almost every walk of life. My drug use tapered off during my twenties, but I never lost my easy rapport with people on the fringes, and that helped me build a criminal defense practice.

I was exhausted by the time the train pulled into the Savannah station. From my seat in the last car, the platform looked deserted. Terrified that my family had decided I wasn’t worth meeting, I slung my pack onto my shoulders as the train conductor lowered the stairs into place with a clang. I had deliberately dressed down in a hooded sweatshirt, sweat pants, and sneakers, in part to avoid appearing like a snob.

A group of slim, edgy-looking people, clad in denim and leather, stood close together at the end of the platform. I recognized the members of my family from the photos they’de sent. A cigarette spiked up between the petite fingers of my sister Belinda’s hand, her shoulders weighed down by the fringe on her suede jacket. My brother Mike was taller than the rest. Dark-haired and dark-skinned like me and our mother, he gripped the hand of a squirming towhead boy who looked like he was trying to jump off the platform. His wife Brenda tried to grab the little boy’s other hand. My brother Jonathan’s leather jacket flared out as he turned and saw me, as I ran toward them, as they spread their arms wide, and just like that, I was enveloped:

“Just like Momma.”

“Momma’s hair.”

“Look at her hands.”

“Momma’s hands.”

“Momma’s eyes.”

Talking all at once, hands grabbing my hands.

“She’s crying.”

I wept like I’d been cut open. I pressed my palms against their cheekbones, and my cheekbones into their shoulders. If only I could have climbed inside their skin. My mother had only been dead for a year; she had suffocated from an asthma attack on the way to a hospital. So my brothers and sisters were as close as I’d ever get to my mother, who was fifteen when she gave birth to me and then, almost immediately, gave me up for adoption.

“I’m too late,” I wailed, clasping my sister’s hand.

“None of us are too late. I always wanted a sister,” she said tenderly. “You’re still crying.” Her own eyes were wet but clear, welling up but under control as we climbed into the front seat of a hulking Chrysler sedan. “Momma would be so happy.”

I’d only known about these precious people for two weeks, since Sandy Musser, the private investigator I’d hired, called and gave me the bad news about my mother, and then the good news that I had siblings, along with Mike’s address. An adoptee rights activist, she wouldn’t tell me how she had gained access to my original birth certificate and learned my mother’s name. I’m certain that she bribed someone who worked in the hospital where I was born or in the Florida Vital Statistics office. Once she connected me with a blood relative, her work was done. I never heard from her again. She was discreet because she had to be; she operated outside of the law all over the United States, and was ultimately prosecuted on conspiracy charges for doing exactly what she had done for me: digging up sealed records. She served four months in a federal prison.

Mike called me as soon as he received my letter. A few months after I was born, our mother, Theresa, turned sixteen and married a family friend, Rudolph. She and Rudolph proceeded to have six more children, and they stayed married until the day she died. When I met Rudolph some time later, he told me he knew she had given up a baby, but she had never told him who my father was, and the two of them had never mentioned me to the other children. Mike was surprised but delighted to find he had a long-lost sister. In the photos I sent with my letter, I looked so much like our mother that he felt like he was getting her back. The news about me spread through our family, and for the next two weeks I spent every spare moment either on the phone with a new relative or writing letters, feeling pulled toward Savannah, where most of them lived.

After we left the train station, Mike drove with precision through some of Savannah’s squares, which are built around parks where old oaks drip Spanish moss and azaleas bloom in the shade. I wanted to stop crying, so they could see how happy I was. Instead, I started coughing. The car went quiet. My brothers and my sister knew from our conversations that I had inherited Momma’s asthma.

“You gonna make it?” Mike asked when my coughing fit subsided.

“Sure.” I flashed him a big, teary grin. I turned to Belinda. “I’m fine.” I didn’t want them to worry about me, and I looked for something else to talk about.

I had noticed that the ignition had been popped, and a screwdriver, sticking out of the steering column, served as the car key.

“What happened there?” For ten years, I’d contracted with the state as a public defender just north of Boston, near where I was raised. I knew full well why people pop ignitions.

Mike chuckled. “Lost the key,” he said with a wink as we left the downtown area, taking the curve at the entrance to the Bonaventure Cemetery and entering a neighborhood of tiny, single-family homes. Belinda, her husband, and their three kids lived in a three-room bungalow on Tennessee Avenue—a bad neighborhood, she said, ruined by drugs and gang violence. Mike pulled the Chrysler halfway up her steep driveway, and parked it under a massive live oak.

To my astonishment, children poured out of the front door and mobbed me like butterflies on a New England milkweed field in summer. I wanted to wring out every drop of sweetness I possessed for them. The small ones threw their arms around my hips; the older ones patted my hair and pulled on my hands, and I heard the tune again, in a slightly different key, “Just like Grandma! Just like Grandma!”

I pulled my camera out of my backpack and started snapping photos. I was posed with my brothers and sister and the children in front of a mass of azaleas blooming fuchsia, pink, and white. We swarmed into the house, and I began bawling again. “You smell like weed,” I said to Belinda’s husband. He seemed surprised that I, a lawyer, would know what weed smelled like, but he didn’t know much about me yet.

There was a loud bang outside. Everyone moved back into the yard. Mike’s Chrysler sat in the middle of the road. The back end of it had knocked out a corner of the cinderblock wall surrounding the across-the-street neighbor’s yard. In the driver’s seat, two three-year-olds pushed each other back and forth. It was Alan Michael and one of the little girls, Bee-Bee. They were struggling over the screwdriver in the ignition. The Chrysler’s engine revved and stalled and spluttered out.

“Bee-Bee!” someone yelled. The two drivers stopped pushing each other. Bee-Bee launched herself out of the passenger-side window, flipped onto the asphalt, and ran up the driveway.

“It was Alan Michael’s idea!” she yelled.

“Was not!” He was right behind her.

“Boy,” said Mike, “what were you thinking?”

“We was just goin’ for a ride.”

Spankings ensued. The men pushed the car away from the wall. Someone picked up the cinderblocks and wedged them back into their places, but it was easy to see that the wall had been broken. After a few false starts, the engine revved up. This time, Mike parked at the curb.

Later that afternoon, I drove with Mike and Brenda to their home in Ellabell, twenty-five miles west of Savannah. Their trailer sat on a wooded lot, shaded by sweet gum trees and jacked up on cinderblock towers at the corners. Once inside, my feet kept curling up and away from a nagging feeling that the suspended floor was about to collapse.

She is smiling at the camera, but her eyes, my eyes, seem out of focus.

Framed, professional photographs lined the paneling in the living room. Mike and Brenda’s wedding picture—him in a shirt and tie, her in a flowery blue-print dress. Alan Michael as an infant, then as a baby able to sit up, then as a toddler. Alan Michael with Mike and Brenda. Everything in the trailer looked used to within an inch of its life, except for those photos, which gleamed from the walls. I turned around to see another picture, Alan Michael with two older people: my mother and her husband.

It remains the largest, clearest image I have seen of her. She is smiling at the camera, but her eyes, my eyes, seem out of focus. Her hair is dark and flyaway, and her tanned skin is almost as dark as the circles underneath her eyes. Her cheeks are puffy in the way people’s cheeks get when they are on steroids for a long time. There’s an intubation scar on her throat. Her slender, tapered fingers, my fingers, rest on Alan Michael’s little arm. Her husband stands behind them with his hand on her shoulder in a protective gesture. He is fifteen years older than her, but he looks vigorous and proud.

Mike cupped his hands on my shoulders in a similar gesture. “Momma loved babies,” he said. “She loved Alan Michael.”

“And she was always pretty good around him,” Brenda said. “But you did have to watch her.”

“Yep,” said Mike. “Belinda stopped letting Momma around her kids years ago.”

“I don’t think that was right, even if she did drink,” Brenda said. “She was their grandmother, after all.”

“She could be mean as a snake when she was drunk,” Mike said. “Most of the time she was real meek. But then sometimes you’d walk by her and she’d wrap her fingers in your hair and yank so hard your hair came out.”

“She must’ve done something like that to one of Belinda’s kids,” Brenda said. “We never did find out what straw it was that broke that camel’s back.”

I lay awake that night in Mike and Brenda’s bed, putting the pieces together. Some of what I learned about my family came from questions they asked me, like, “You have nerve spells?” or “You like wine?” No, I’d tell them, I’m very calm. Wine’s okay, but I don’t drink much anymore because it makes me wheezy. I’d ask them about my mother’s drinking. They told me she was a binge drinker; she’d get some money and then she’d get drunk. Her husband didn’t like it, and if he found the wine she’d hidden from him, he would pour it down the sink. He moved the family around often: from Savannah to North Florida, back to Savannah, then back to North Florida. He’d been in the Marines in World War II. He was strict. He was handsome. He was a very good dancer. My mother loved to dance. Sometimes they took my sister and my brothers out with them at night, and the children watched them dance together like movie stars.

It was exciting to watch the similarities between my siblings and me pile up. My sister, one of my brothers, and I all write poetry. Our mother loved to read. Some of us have “good skin,” meaning we tan very easily and deeply. The story went that we had a female ancestor from the Cherokee tribe. Others are fair-skinned and platinum blonde, what’s called “white-headed” in the South.

But I especially loved spending time with Alan Michael, in part because he reminded me of the stories I had heard about myself at his age. At four, he could already read, even though he hadn’t been to school yet. He liked to draw. Everyone called him “artistic” in an admiring way.

That night, laying in a strange bed with strange pillows and unfamiliar dust made me wheezy. I got up and tried some yoga postures to relax my lungs. Triangle pose. Eagle pose. I used my inhaler. I got back into bed, but instead of laying down, I sat cross-legged, pulled the pillow perpendicular to my legs, and then folded over on it.

I’ve been doing this since I was Alan Michael’s age. It opens up the back of my ribcage and makes it easier to breathe. I call it my frog pose.

“Go give your Aunt Michele some sugar!” Brenda said to Alan Michael the next morning. I was standing next to the sink, drinking the cup of instant coffee Brenda had made for me. I put the cup on the counter and squatted onto my heels so that Alan Michael and I were the same height. He had gotten a cabinet open and was reaching inside it.

“Don’t you do it, Alan Michael!” Brenda yelled, then turned to me. “Lord, he loves to take those pots and pans out while we’re sleeping and start banging on them. Anything for attention.” She turned back to her boy. “Go give your Aunt Michele some sugar, now.”

He swaggered the few steps toward me like a sheriff making an entrance into a saloon.

“Who loves you, little man?” I asked.

He tucked his chin into his chest. “I dunno.”

“I do!” I swooped him into my arms and kissed his chubby little cheeks a dozen times. I was thirty-four years old and childless. I’d never wanted the responsibilities that came with motherhood, but I did feel the occasional maternal urge. Now, I thought, I can have it both ways.

For the rest of my first week in Georgia, we played this game over and over again. Who loves you, little man? I had plenty of sugar to give him.

*                      *                     *

Over the next twenty years, I traveled to Savannah every summer. Some years, I rented a beach house on Tybee Island, and my whole family came to stay. By whole family, I mean those who were not incarcerated at the time, or so strung out that they were hiding even from their loved ones. Two of my five brothers spent most of their adult lives in state prisons for crimes committed in the service of their addictions. Crack cocaine twisted the minds of two other brothers, and their wives, so that they lost everything: their jobs, their homes, their health, their reason, and their children. And the children: five of my nieces spend some part of their childhoods in foster care or group homes.

In the past ten years, four of my five brothers, and one of my nieces, have died from the effects of their addictions.

I had been happy to be a part of such a large family because there were so many people to love—and so many people to love me. But anger and disappointment and helplessness were part of the package. I realized early on that there would be many people to mourn. In the past ten years, four of my five brothers, and one of my nieces, have died from the effects of their addictions.

All of my life, I have been drawn to addicts. Maybe I admire their perpetual dissatisfaction, or maybe I’m just hardwired that way. Today, I am married to a man who is a college president, and who has been sober for fifteen years. When I was a criminal defense attorney, I didn’t just care about my clients—most of whom, as statistics would predict, were substance abusers—I loved many of them. It was often difficult for me to understand their self-destructive behavior. So I read the research and learned what I could. When I met my family, I had an added incentive to educate myself.

It didn’t take long for my brother Mike’s crack habit to become a full-fledged addiction. Brenda divorced him and moved to Idaho with eight-year-old Alan Michael, to get him as far away from my crazy family as possible.

Since then, my relationship with Alan Michael has been sustained by telephone calls and letters, with the exception of two visits he made to Savannah when I happened to also be there. He was pre-adolescent at the time of both of those visits, still curious and active, but a little edgier. Once, he begged to have his almost-white hair dyed blue by a relative who ran a hair salon, and, after getting the okay from Brenda, emerged from the salon with hair the color of a Popsicle. On another occasion, we made a life-sized alligator out of sand on the beach at Tybee Island. But most of his life from the ages of eight to eighteen was spent in rural Idaho, where he excelled in class and on his high school football team. Like some of my brothers, he played guitar and sang. Every year, I received one of his school photos and a letter. I talked with him on the phone occasionally, sometimes about how he wanted to attend one of Idaho’s state universities. He called me for advice about going to college because I was his only relative who’d gotten a four-year degree. I gave him a few tips on taking the SAT. I was optimistic.

Over the telephone, I couldn’t tell that he had already started drinking, but he had. He drank to get drunk. Just as he graduated from high school, Alan Michael was arrested for breaking into a liquor store. Brenda called to tell me. She didn’t understand. She thought she had rescued him from the negative influences, but he was ending up just like my brothers all the same. She worked hard. He had a good life. He had so much potential.

Just as I will never know if I’m allergic to tigers unless I snuggle up to one, there’s no way, yet, to tell if any of us are addicts until we start using.

The myth that addiction is a direct result of trauma is persistent in our culture, in spite of overwhelming medical evidence to the contrary. It would be easy to blame Alan Michael’s downfall on some external event—bad judgment or bad company. It would be easier, if his fate were tied to some tragedy, for us to tell ourselves that it couldn’t possibly happen to us or to our children. But just as you cannot know if you’re allergic to tigers until you snuggle up to one, you cannot know if you’re addict until you start using. By then, it might be too late.

*                      *                     *

Brenda moved back to Georgia while Alan Michael was finishing up his sentence in Idaho for the liquor store break-in, and he joined her there when he was released. She hoped he’d learned his lesson. But in less than a year, he was arrested again; this time it involved a stolen property ring scheme and an impulsive, alcohol-fueled car theft. His cousins told me that Alan Michael was off the chain as soon as he got back to Georgia, that this arrest was just a snapshot of months of drinking and drugging and doing whatever he had to do to get the money he needed to stay high. He ended up serving more than five years in the state prison system, where he read a lot of Nietzsche and Ayn Rand.

In the years of our prison correspondence, I never criticized his reading choices, even when I suspected they might encourage his tendency toward grandiose thinking, or his belief in the possibility of a super-man. I had enough faith in reading as exercise for the brain that I didn’t question the content. Sometimes, I couldn’t resist sending him books I believed would be good for him, but mostly we just carried on a discussion about his changing views on the meaning of life. Sometimes, months went by without a word from him. I understood that these were times when he was embroiled in the politics and economy of prison culture, or when the things he was forced to do to survive in a brutal community took up all his energy. Eventually, he would write again and tell me he’d been out of touch because he’d been involved with the institutional drug trade, or with the Aryan Nation, or that there’d been some sort of lockdown. And soon I’d get a letter full of his thoughts about books.

Just curious, have you read Guns, Germs, and Steel? I had the opportunity to spend some time with it. Very good theories of cultural development. I enjoy that kind of literature because all of it helps me expand my universal viewpoint. I just finished Robert Greene’s Mastery, and he says it’s good to study various unrelated subjects as that improves your ability to create and innovate. I was really looking forward to reading The New Jim Crow. Unfortunately, right now my cellmates and I are in sort of a conundrum. The shakedown squad came and took our books. I didn’t let them get to me. I am the embodiment of change.

*                      *                     *

An early frost fell this week in Maine, deep enough to kill off the more tender members of my garden: the edges of dahlias, the basil, the hibiscus. The squash vines’ leaves are shriveled to nothing, and all of their fruits are exposed. Some are still only the size of oranges; they needed more time to ripen. I wonder whether they will be any good to eat.

I return to the top of Quaker Hill with my backpack and another letter from Alan Michael. It’s the second he’s written to me this month. I still need to write back to him, but what can I say that will make a difference? I feel as useless as I imagine Brenda did the first time Alan Michael was arrested.

I’m too conscious of my own mortality and my own powerlessness to do anything but send my love out to him from a distance.

From the top of this hill, the landscape is emerald except for a few sugar maples with orange-tinged leaves. I didn’t see Alan Michael this year on my trip to the South in June, even though he was out of prison. Instead, I visited Belinda and other family members who live relatively normal lives. I could tell from the extravagant tone of Alan Michael’s Facebook posts that he was getting high and living on the edge of another arrest, or worse. I’m too old now, in my mid-fifties, to risk spending time near that edge, even for the chance to be loved. I’m too conscious of my own mortality and my own powerlessness to do anything but send my love out to him from a distance.

A week after my visit down South, Alan Michael was arrested for selling methamphetamine and painkillers to an undercover agent. The headline in the local newspaper read, “Wanted Parolee Found Hiding in Suitcase.” He must have been in some variation of frog pose. Like many people in our family, like me, his joints and limbs are very flexible. It’s a genetic thing, like the asthma that killed my mother and that sometimes threatens to kill me, like the susceptibility to addiction that continues to torture so many of our family members.

From the boredom of a county jail where he is now awaiting trial, Alan Michael writes about what happened when he got released from his last sentence, only a few months before this current arrest:

For so long, five years and nine months, I had been deprived of life’s amenities, and I wanted them immediately. I began to sell drugs at first, then I used and sold drugs. Fast money spends fast. I managed not only to return to incarceration but also hurt everyone around me.

Twenty years ago, when I was a public defender, I heard that part of the story over and over again, and the beginning of it, too, which goes: “I thought it would be different this time.” But it was never different. The man or woman who got out of prison wanted to celebrate, and that first glass they lifted in celebration, that first line they snorted, that first pipe to the lips set the story in motion again. There is no contentment, no such thing as enough.

“I know now that moderation is key,” Alan Michael writes, but there is no moderation for him, or for most of my family. There never will be.

I’m the only one of my mother’s seven children who inherited her asthma. Like my sister Belinda, and precious few other relatives, I have a home and a job. Our one surviving brother lives most of the year on the outskirts of Savannah, in an outdoor collection of tents and tarps erected by homeless people, where drugs and alcohol are the center of life. Four of our nephews are in prison. Three of our nieces have had their children removed from their homes. Two others are in rehab.

So why them and not us? Belinda and I both had our wild times, and we both made mistakes. It’s not that we grew up in more stable environments than other people in our family. For Belinda, the drug use of her teenage years ended when she became pregnant with her first child, and she never looked back. Mine tapered off as I grew older and became more invested in my health and my career. There was no wrenching process of sobering up for either of us. Getting high was fun while it lasted, but Belinda and I walked away from it without a second glance. Why? We simply didn’t draw that genetic card. Either you’re born an addict or you’re not.

The hayfield at the top of this hill in Maine has been mowed, but the stubble left behind is still green, thanks to the summer’s abundant rains. Sometimes, a mowed field stays green even under deep snow. I’ve seen it in a thaw: a memory of color seeping through a winter’s dreary monochrome. I’m sitting on a granite boulder. Alan Michael’s letter is open on my lap, still creased from its time in the envelope, and I hold its edges tight against the wind. “I broke the law and I deserve to be punished,” he says. I finally know what to say to him.

I take out my pen and write: “No, little man, you’re wrong. You don’t deserve that at all.”

Michele Leavitt

Adult Adoptee

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Please check out more of Michele’s work.

I Met My Long Lost Brother and I was Overcome with Lust

Buckle and Sway

Smoke and Molasses

 

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Aimee S.

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My Husband & I on Our Wedding Day

BIO: I am a 40 year old adoptee raised in Chicago but now living in Wisconsin.  I am married to my saint of a husband, Scott, for 6 years.  We share our home with two rescue dogs, Lady and Fabulous,  and six chickens. We enjoy riding motorcycles, gardening, enjoying craft beer, camping and hiking.  I am a seven year cancer survivor. Having worked in varied industries, I consider myself the jack of all trades but a master of none.  Currently,  I am an accounting and payroll associate for a small specialty contractor.  I am in reunion with members of my maternal family and in search of my paternal line.

Content Warning: The following article you are about to read may contain written material of a serious factual nature that may be disturbing to some individuals. Reader discretion is advised.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

I was born Baby Girl Perz on August 28, 1976. 
 
The first time I heard the word adopted was at four years old at a funeral.  A relative that I really did not know was dragging me around by the arm introducing me at Tom and Rosanne’s adopted daughter, Aimee.  I was confused as I had no idea what that word meant.  After this occurred several times, I remember my mother forcefully removing me from the relative’s grip.  Terse words were exchanged and my memory fades. 
 
The next time adoption came up was at 11.  I was diagnosed with a genetically linked disease.  No one in the family has it and my mother was arguing with the doctor.  I remember her screaming, there is no way she has this.  No one on either side does.   My great aunt on my father’s side was over 100 year old.  We went to her house on the weekends to help with her medications and grocery shopping.  Aunt Elvira sent my parents out on an errand along with my younger brother.  She wanted me alone.  She sat me down and said she had something very important to tell me and made me promise that I would never tell my parents about this conversation.  I agreed.  She pointed to a cabinet and had me bring her a manila envelope.  She opened it and handed it to me.  She told me to read it and when I was done, she would explain.  It contained a “Sales Receipt” and a court stamped adoption order.  She explained that my parents couldn’t have children, so they adopted my brother and I.  She said that I had an older sister, also adopted, who died prior to my birth and they adopted me as a replacement.  Aunt Elvira said my parents hid the paperwork at her house so I would never find it.  She thought it wasn’t fair that they would never tell me, especially now that I was ill.  We heard a key go in the lock and I ran the paperwork back into the cabinet.  It was never discussed again, and she died 3 years later. 
 
I never fit in to my adopted family. 
My parents were almost 40 when they adopted me. 
I look nothing like them, and was especially different from my brother, who was less than 8 months younger.  They were never physically loving.  No hugs, no cuddles, no kisses good night.  My father was a doctor and my mother a nurse.  He was a raging violent drunk and she was an enabler, that due to her Catholic faith, did not believe in divorce.  She allowed herself and her children to be beaten and abused instead of the sin of divorce.  We were instructed from early on, how to disguise the bruises and broken bones.  Told what stories to tell prying teachers and other adults.  We had no close family.  All the grandparents were deceased either prior to my birth, or shortly after.  My father had no living siblings and the cousins kept their distance due to his alcoholism.  My mother had one brother, but they grew apart. My mother’s cousin, who we called Aunt Nancy, was there every day.  She was a sweet soul.  She never married, nor ever had a first date!  She lived two miles down the road. She was my only respite from the abuse.  I would go to her condo and hang out.  At 16 I left home after a horrible night of abuse.  I had to barricade my bedroom door with my bed to stop the punching.  I packed a duffle bag and hopped out the window. I did not speak to my adoptive parents for 5 years after that. It was only upon the death of my adoptive father that I allowed my mother back into my life.
 
Fast forward to 2012 , my adoptive mother passed away.   Upon cleaning out her house, I discovered a box that contained the same paperwork I saw at 11.  That triggered me to find out the laws in Illinois.  I applied for my original birth certificate and medical information.  A couple of months later, an envelope arrived from the Department of Health. It was UNEDITED!!!  I was thankful.  I finally could see my mother’s full name. Then my jaw dropped when I saw the address. She lived less than 4 miles from where I grew up.  I could have run into her at the grocery store.  The father’s name was blank.  My birth mother was 17 and my father 16.
 
I entered my name into the adoptee registry with the state and with every online one I could find.  No response and I left it be until the summer of 2016.  I was going to turn 40 and it was a turning point in my life.  With encouragement from my husband, Scott, I starting searching.  I found her current address quickly.  She lives even closer to my childhood home now.  Two letters went unanswered.  I then reached out to her sister, my aunt.  She responded and has been very welcoming.  She also gave me my birth father’s name, Bill.   Bill never knew my mother was pregnant. She told me that her mother, my grandmother, forced the adoption.  After my birth, she regretted the decision and felt guilty until she passed away in 2009. My aunt is not close to her sister, but she called her first when she received my letter.  My mother confirmed she received my letters and she burned them.  She forbid her sister to contact me and told her to destroy the letter.  I am thankful that she didn’t obey her sister’s wishes.  My aunt said that I was my mother’s deep secret, and she never told her first, nor current husband, I existed.  She never had any other children.  My aunt’s son, Jon and I have become close.  He is 22 and a caring man.  He has spent the weekend at my house a couple of times.
 
I was able to find Bill in less than a half hour.  I contacted him via Facebook and the same day he called.   When I told him I could be his daughter, he was over joyed.  He said he had three sons and always wanted a daughter.  He lives 400 miles away and made his way to Wisconsin to meet me.  He agreed to do a DNA test. Six weeks later, the DNA results came back.  We share ZERO DNA.  I was devastated and still am. Bill was crushed.  Thankfully, he wants to stay in my life and has agreed to be my dad in spite of the results.  My aunt was extremely shocked and thought for 40 years Bill was my dad.  I’m hoping that maybe over the holidays she will see her sister and possibly get a name.
 
This brings us to the present. 
I have temporarily given up searching for my birth father.  I have no leads and my DNA matches on Ancestry, GEDmatch (kit # A230100), and My Heritage are few and far between.  Once I am in an emotionally better place, my search angel Rafaella  will take up the quest.   Due to my journey the last 6 months, I have decided to become a search angel and also work for adoption reform.  The time of closed adoptions needs to end now and I will work to change state laws so adoptees are no longer treated as second class citizens.
Aimee S.
Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Rebecca Rud

rebeccarud-aka-gretchen-w
My Mother & I- 2013

BIO: I am 45 years old. I am married and have one son (18 years old) who is in his Freshman year at college. I work FT at an asphalt company in accounts receivable. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ so it is against my relationship to have a religion. I’ve known my bio family (mother side only) for 26 years. I find great comfort in connecting with other fellow adoptees and share in our journeys through this maze called “adoptionland”. I want all adoptees to have access to their OBC (original birth certificates) since I have mine, I want others to have theirs as well.

Content Warning: The following article you are about to read may contain written material of a serious factual nature that may be disturbing to some individuals. Reader discretion is advised.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

I was born in May 1971 in a small town in Minnesota. I was in foster care for 2 months until my parents adopted me on my dad’s birthday (July 1971). Yes, I was someone’s birthday gift. Not sure how I feel about that even today.  My parents had no kids of their own so they adopted me and a couple years later, my brother (no blood relation). Around 5-6 years of age my brother and I were told we were adopted. We didn’t know what that meant at the time. However the word “adopted” stuck in my head especially when I would have to go to the doctor or dentist. My mom would get asked if I was allergic to anything by the nurse, and all I would hear would be,

“We don’t know, she is adopted.”

Growing up I had my own room and so did my brother so the only thing we had to share was a bathroom and maybe some toys. I had everything a child could want materially speaking, however something was missing. I didn’t look like anyone in my family. My mom and dad and brother all had brown eyes where I had blue-green eyes. I had none of my parents’ talents or gifts (wonder why?). I wasn’t close to my mom and I was always a daddy’s girl until my parents got a divorce (my upper 30s). I didn’t have that bond with my mom and still don’t even though she is my mom who raised me and took care of me. My mom and I don’t have anything in common: she loves shopping – I don’t; she loves getting a manicure and pedicure – I don’t; she loves wearing dresses and putting on make-up – I don’t.

Get the point?

I remember as a child going into the basement, probably to clean the cat box, and saw an old 4 drawer metal cabinet. Curiosity got the better of me and I started opening the drawers to see what was in them, since we didn’t use the basement except for storage, laundry, and the cat box. In one of the drawers I opened, I saw a folder with my name on it but had to close the drawer because I was called up stairs for dinner or something else. When I did get down there again I pulled out the file that had my name written on it. I opened it up to quickly see what was in there and noticed there was information from Children’s Home Society (the place I was adopted from) with all kinds of non-identifying information on my birth parents. I did not dare tell my parents that I found this digging through their file cabinet. I kept it to myself but would find myself going into the basement every chance I could to look at that file. I have that file now in my possession.

It was the end of May in the year of 1990, in which my curiosity really started building up within me. I was about to graduate from high school and enter a new stage in my life but something was missing.

Who was I?

Where did I come from?

Am I allergic to anything?

What’s my medical history?

Family history?

All these questions were important, but the one question that I really wanted answered was why did my mother give me up for adoption?

I started my search for my mother with a phone book (yes way before the internet came to be) at high school. I found their name – Children’s Home Society of MN along with their phone number. I called the number right away and as the phone was ringing I started to get really nervous. A lady answered the phone and I told her that I wanted to locate my biological mother, so she suggested that I come in and see a social worker about it. So that’s exactly what I did.  I decided to go to Children’s Home Society two or three days before my high school graduation to get the information I longed to have, which included my mother’s name.  One of my friends (who was not adopted) came along with me to this agency. She was one of my friends who was quite supportive during this confusing phase in my life.

We both entered the building and went up to the receptionist desk and told her I wanted to see a social worker about finding my mother. She asked me if I had an appointment. I told her I didn’t have one but asked if there was one to see. The receptionist than told me and my friend to go sit in the waiting area while she tried to see if there was a social worker available to help me with my inquiries. As I sat there waiting, I became quite nervous. I felt my heart starting to beat faster and faster and my palms started dripping with sweat. My friend tried to ease my nerves by telling me I had nothing to worry about. I suggested to my friend that we leave before the social worker came down, but it was too late, the social worker just came around the corner to greet us in the waiting area. With a little bit of eagerness I got up out of the chair and followed the social worker back to her office along with my friend, although I still felt my nerves twitching inside of me as we got closer to her office. As we were walking back to her office, I truly felt that I would get my mother’s name before I left the building that afternoon. We entered her office, which was quite small with two rectangular windows, which were connected by a wall and the ceiling. She had a desk which was against a wall; two other chairs and a file cabinet. We all sat down and started talking about what I wanted to do. This discussion eventually brought disappointment to me.  The social worker could not give me any information, nor could she give me my mother’s name because of the privacy act (we adoptees need to get this changed in MN and other states). Although the social worker did tell me that I could do a search for her through the agency. I asked her how much it would cost to do the search. As she told me the price for doing the search, I almost died right there. I left there with my friend, not knowing if I was going to return or not. It was a quiet ride home with my friend. We hardly talked about the meeting which had just taken place. That night I told my parents where I had gone that afternoon. I was really surprised how well they took it. I told them about this search program and how much it would cost, and that I had awhile to think about it, at least until all the graduation stuff was completed. I think they finally realized that I needed to find out my roots and know where I came from.

I loved my parents but at the same time I needed to find answers to so many questions that consumed me day and night.

Well, June 7, 1990 came and went (my high school graduation), which meant I had to meet with the social worker soon, so I called and made an appointment with her. While on the phone, I told the social worker that I had made up my mind and that I was going to do the search for my mother. My mom also wanted to come along to this meeting which was okay with the social worker.

The day of the appointment came by rather quickly. The appointment was scheduled for ten in the morning, so we left quite early so we wouldn’t be late.  While my mom and I were in the car, she told me that she would like to contribute some money to this search for my birthmother. I tried to tell her that I couldn’t accept it, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I accepted the money.  My mom and I entered the social worker’s office and started the session with some general conversation which was nothing serious. During this conversation I was asked to fill out some forms and sign them. Plus I had to sign something which said I paid the money, so the search could begin right away. The social worker than told me that it could take some time to track her down, but she would let me know when she had found anything significant. During this time period I spent most of the time working. My social worker would call every so often and tell me how things are moving along. One afternoon I got a phone call from the social worker telling me that she had just spoken to my mother. As she was telling me this, I couldn’t believe it. The social worker said that my mother was hoping I would try to contact her. By this time it was near the end of August of 1990.

My mother and I started writing to each other through the social worker, since my social worker suggested that we don’t move too fast. So we continued to write to each other through the social worker until a meeting was set up to meet each other, which was on September 21, 1990.  The meeting was scheduled for 1pm down at Children’s Home Society. As I was driving down to St Paul, I felt myself getting more nervous. My stomach was in knots and my palms were sweating all over the steering wheel. I arrived there a little early in hopes to catch a glimpse of my mother, but I didn’t see her, since she had arrived there several hours before I arrived. The social worker took me into her office and asked me if I was absolutely ready for this meeting. I told her I was and mentioned to her that I was very nervous. She told me I still could back out of it, but I told her that I wanted and needed to go through with this meeting with my mother. We walked down the very dark hallway and suddenly turning to my right to go down some stairs, which to my knowledge lead to the so called “family room”, where my mother sat waiting to see me for the first time in 19 years.

The social worker started opening the door slowly. As I watched the door open I started getting more and more nervous, thinking maybe this was a mistake after all. Although after being spaced out for a few seconds, I realized I had entered the room and was staring directly into my mother’s eyes.  I said “hello” to my mother and she said, “Hello Gretchen, I’m your birthmother…”, and when I saw my mother, a petite woman of only 5 feet and then realized I was taller than her…that put a smile on my face!  The social worker left us alone for ten to fifteen minutes so we could talk. I finally got to talk with her face to face instead of through letters. This was real. Finally someone who I looked like. Before I could even ask about my birthfather my mother told me that she was raped and that is how I was conceived.  Internally at that moment I was lifeless but on the outside I’m sure I had a look of shock. Flashback moment: When I was a child I imagined in my own reality that my birth parents were high school sweethearts that got a little carried away in the back seat of a Chevy or Ford. This fantasy was my lifeline on how I came to be.  After the news of being conceived in rape my “imagination” reality ended. I could no longer tell people my imagination reality when the true reality was real, in fact too real. I tried asking some follow up questions but my mother said that she blocked out that time frame and couldn’t remember anything about my birthfather. She asked me to never bring it up again.

We looked at some photos that each of us had brought, and talked about my childhood (which I told her was good – still in the fog here). After a while the social worker came back and we all went outside to meet her parents (long story here – foster parents) and take some photos. Going back to my mother’s parents (foster) here is the short version behind that: my mother was raped and didn’t know she was pregnant even though she had morning sickness at night until a few months into it. Her mother found out and kicked her out of the house. Therefore she had nowhere to go so she was placed in a foster home.

After taking some photos outside my mother gave me my original birth certificate (OBC) which I treasure to this day. As non-adoptees take birth certificates for granted when an adoptee gets their OBC it is like gold and treasured. Even though my OBC has a stamp across it “not for official use” I still consider it my birth certificate. It may only have my last name on it but my mother told me what she named me. So after receiving my OBC my mother took me out to dinner, so we could spend some more time getting acquainted with each other with her parents. After dinner my mother left with her parents to go back to Alexandria, MN. As for me, I drove home by myself still thinking about what I had just been through in the last several hours. On that day, I finally knew who I was, at least half of me, which was better than nothing. In a twisted kind of way I feel this is almost a dream which I’m about to wake up and find out that I’ve never met her.  (Most of the above excerpt was written for one of my college English courses shortly after this event occurred).

The first year of our reunion was like a rollercoaster ride. Back in 1990-91 internet wasn’t around and it was hard to find anything that dealt with reunions (not that I was looking because I didn’t think there was anything out there) so I had no clue on how this was supposed to work. I remember the first month or two into our reunion we got a hotel room in between where we lived for a weekend. We checked out our feet, hands, arms, legs, etc. and talked like I have never talked with anyone in my life. I must have sounded like a rambling lunatic talking and talking but it felt right and good to connect with my mother. When my mother would hug me I never wanted her to let go. I loved that closeness I felt with her when she hugged me. We looked at more photos and talked about her family and more of my upbringing (still in the fog).

We even took a trip out to South Dakota together so she could introduce me to some family as well as her father (her parents divorced before I was born). This was a week I’ll never forget. I met so many relatives that I thought my head was going to spin off. And the ones I met were only a small fraction of my mother’s side.  You see, my mother has 13 siblings and 2 half-siblings which makes it a very large family. Plus on my grandfather’s side he had 5 siblings and my grandmother had 5 siblings and all the cousins. During this trip I got to meet my grandfather, all of his siblings, some second cousins, and my eldest uncle and his family. That was a lot of people to meet in a short period of time. Since that time I have met most of my aunts and uncles except for 5 of them. I have around 20 first cousins alone which can be hard to keep track of and I have only met 9 or 10 of them in person.

It seemed in the first two years my mother and I would either call, write, or we would get together on a weekend. It was like we were both dying and we had to get to know each other as quickly as possible, which may have led to our relationship going from good to bad to non-existent (more like an on again off again relationship or time outs as one of my fellow adoptees put it). I do love my mother despite not having her in my life at this time. She gave me life even when I was a result of rape, which should never happen to anyone, and thought I would have a better life with a mom and a dad. Side Note: My mother did tell me that her mother also threatened to take me from her if she decided to keep me so she could get money from the state.  I did ask my mother back in 2013 if she ever thought about getting an abortion when she found out she was pregnant with me (even though not legal until 1973) and she told me that it never crossed her mind and that I was the best thing that ever happened to her because it brought her to her knees in accepting Christ as her Personal Savior.

I do keep in contact via Facebook, text, and phone calls with my extended family who I love very much. I am my mother’s only child so my cousins are the closest thing I have for siblings. I find that I relate more to my bio family than I did with my adoptive family growing up. I remember getting together with one of my cousins (bio) and her telling me about her childhood. As I sat there listening to her tell me about it, it brought a smile to my face as I could finally relate to another family member. Even though we didn’t grow up together we still had similarities that we could share with each other which I didn’t have with any of my adoptive cousins. I can see a part of myself in all my aunts and uncles I have met. I remember being told by my mother and a number of her brothers and sisters that I sound like their sister (my aunt), one of the aunts I’ve never met or even spoken with. It’s still amazing to me on how much in common I finally have with people who are connected by blood. I finally feel like I fit in somewhere after 26 years of finding my mother.

As I’ve gone through these 26 years of reconnecting with half of my biological family, there is still that other side that is a mystery. This is why a number of years ago I did a DNA test through 23 & Me and just recently with Ancestry. I’ve come across 2-4th cousins that don’t sound familiar so I’m assuming they are from my paternal side. I’ve reached out to a couple but nothing has come back to put the missing pieces back together. I have nothing but DNA to go for on my paternal side but at least it is something. I’ve come to accept that I may never find that other half of me, but at least I have half of who I am, which is better than nothing.

As I reached my early 40’s that “adoptee fog” of being a compliant adoptee and everything is just fine being adopted left me when I joined groups on the internet of other adoptees. I found out through them that what I was feeling in the inside was “normal” and I started coming out of that fog of “the good adoptee” where you felt grateful and special and chosen (get my point?). I am trying to be more involved in getting us adoptees our Original Birth Certificates (OBC) even though I have mine. I want my fellow adoptees to have theirs as well.

In closing, as we adoptees go through our individual journeys of finding our roots, just know that you have a huge support group with your fellow adoptees.  We have different support groups out there on Facebook and on the internet. I would also recommend reading “The Primal Wound” by Nancy Verrier. This was my first book that I read when I started coming out of the “adoptee fog”. I find myself reading certain parts over and over again. Besides the above two items, I would suggest doing DNA tests and working with a search angel if you are wanting to find your roots. Everyone has a right to know where they came from, especially us adoptees.

Rebecca Rud

Adult Adoptee

My Contact Info:

Twitter – Gretchen Weible

Skype – gretchen.weible

Facebook – Gretchen Weible

WordPress blog – Rebecca Rud 1971

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Maria Gatz

img_3275BIO: My name is Maria and I was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. I spent a handful of years in the mountainous beauty of East Tennessee, but have always seen Kentucky as home. I was adopted from birth by two of the most loving and supportive parents a girl could ever dream of and then blessed with the best brother in the world when I was ten years old. As a Dominican-Mexican female with an African-American brother and Caucasian parents, our adoption story was no secret and both my brother and I knew how to tell our own stories from a very young age. Our adoptive parents have always been supportive of us having relationships with our birth families. I was fortunate to meet my birth parents and additional family members five years ago and am still processing how to develop proper relationships with so many wonderful people that I instantly fell in love with. I have also had numerous and diversified opportunities in working with children and youth ranging from 0-18 years of age for more than fifteen years. I am a passionate individual driven by mind, body, and soul. I love psychology (with special interest in behavioral science), health and wellness (especially the gym and fitness, as well as mental health), and have quite the art heart (with a love for it all but holding a special place for dance!). There have been ups and downs, c’est la vie, but there’s never been a dull moment. God has proven Himself to be so good and so faithful through it all. I am truly blessed!

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

Legacy of an Adopted Child

Once there were two women

Who never knew each other

One you do not remember

The other you call mother

Two different lives

Shaped to make yours one

One became your guiding star

The other became your sun

The first gave you life

And the second taught you to live it

The first gave you a need for love

And the second was there to give it

One gave you a nationality

The other gave you a name

One gave you a seed of talent

The other gave you an aim

One gave you emotions

The other calmed your fears

One saw your first sweet smile

The other dried your tears

One gave you up

It was all she could do

The other prayed for a child

And God led her straight to you

And now you ask me through your fears

The age old question unanswered throughout the years

Heredity or environment

Which are you a product of?

Neither, my darling –neither Just two different kinds of love.

-Author Unknown

I grew up with this cross stitched and gifted to me by my dear Aunt Brenda. I’ve had this framed for 30 years and the meaning behind this poem grows deeper and deeper daily. What does it mean to be adopted? How does it feel to be adopted? For me, the answer to both of these questions can be summed up in a single word – EVERYTHING. There’s a certain role and understanding that you’re born into, that must develop and grow up with you. To be born into adoption is to be born into both blessings and burdens. There is both beauty and pain. There is triumph and tragedy. There is a lifelong battle for balance to be had in being born into adoption.

My adoption has and always will mean everything to me.

I was created with a purpose and made up of the DNA of two incredible people. They were young and they had their whole lives ahead of them; so out of love, they gifted me to two more incredible people that were at a place in their life to love a child they could call their own. Now, was it as simple as that? Of course not, life and love never are – but, they can be. There are complexes created in the life of an adopted child and all the people involved; but then again, I believe simplicity is simply complexity resolved. I have three families and no divorce. And when I say I have three families and no divorce, I’m simply acknowledging my adopted family, my birth mother’s family, and my birth father’s family. I’m not including my church family, my friend family, my fitness family, my work family, and other families of choice.

You see one of the complexes of life as an adoptee – is pushing past the extremes to even begin to obtain some sort of balance. Family is one of the easiest and one of the most difficult things I’ve had to help me identify and develop this concept of understanding. I’ve talked with many adoptees over the years and extremely put, either you are able to view “everybody” as possible family OR “nobody” can be seen as family. Enter the created complex of abandonment vs attachment: I can’t attach to you, you might leave me OR you’re going to leave me VS I need you. I can’t live without you. You can’t leave me. Then, the adoptee begins a search for significance in life, trying to find his or her place with people in this world.

Was I left from the beginning, laying out a pattern of what the rest of my life will look like? Or am I everything anybody could have ever wanted? Am I destined for a life of disconnect and detachment? Or am I needy and overly attached? Have I been set up for a life of detrimental codependency or will I be a life-long interdependent? Could I ever make it on my own? Will I ever find a balance? Will I ever have a family of my own? There are a lot of thoughts that go through an adoptees head. And just when you thought you had exhausted all the thoughts that come with ‘what does it mean to be adopted,’ enter –matters of the heart. How does it feel to be adopted? Well…as an adoptee, currently in my life’s journey, I’m open to new feelings to be had; because, I’m not sure of many feelings that I haven’t yet felt through, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, as lives have turned into legacies. I’ve been a deeper feeler in my lifetime than I’ve been thinker. I was sure I had it all felt and figured out.

I always have been ‘the emo-child’ of the family. Thank goodness my brilliant mother was always there to encourage my discouraged mindset and remind me that my EQ (emotional quotient) was, is and always will be through the roof. My whole family feels quite deeply.

fullsizerender-1
My Brother & I

There’s a great deal of love invested into this family of four. My brother and I are both adopted and have very different adoption stories; but, he is also the only one in the world that knows what it’s like to be a child raised by OUR incredible set of parents. There’s a lot of love felt within this family of four and we have all been highly blessed time and time again, both in our home and out in the world as we see it. So again when asked, how does it feel to be an adopted child? It depends on when you’re asking, but at the end of the day, it feels a lot.

As the young woman that I am and continuing to grow to be daily, how have I found a peace of mind and heart in what it means to be adopted? Or how it feels to be adopted? “For HE himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility—“ Ephesians 2:14 I have surrendered to the fact that I cannot think everything nor can I feel everything. I am not God. I’m just little ole me – a beautifully blessed human being. And for me, that beauty was found in my brokenness and all around it.

I’ve always believed in the beauty of the brokenness.

Sure, it can feel like a heavy burden to bear sometimes. I just had this conversation with my papa. I was born to be different. I was born into being different. The thing that makes me the most different of all, I chose to like and embrace different as good. And when I question if different really is good… I go straight to The Source. My Maker. My Creator. The One, in whom I believe, has called all of us to tap into our identity, as a part of the same family – His family, the family of The Living God. You see, I believe we’re all called to accept our title as adopted. “He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and his will—“ Ephesians 1:5 But from one adoptee to the next, to embrace family is a choice. To love, to honor, to obey –to respect. To be who you are destined to be and to fulfill your purpose outside of yourself is not forced. It’s freewill. It’s commitment. It’s a choice of a different kind of lifestyle. Confession…

I’m highly strong willed. But my Heavenly Father sent His Son, my brother and best friend, Jesus Christ to save us all. No matter how strong we think we can be without Him, it’s limited. I learned that one the hard way. And I have yet to meet an individual whose free will has proven strong enough to take on this thing called life on their own.

Thankfully, we are all the same to Him, despite our differences. Our differences are simply personalized gifts of talent to be unlocked and used to bring the family together. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. So ultimately, when you ask, how does it feel to be adopted?

It’s the greatest feeling in the world.

Maria Gatz

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Gary Eugene

GaryE

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

BIO: I’m a grape grower for a winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York. I’ve been married 19 years. I’m an army veteran and a marathon runner. I have since developed a great relationship with one of my half sisters from my mom’s side. I am also now in contact with my entire paternal side and fully accepted even though the records said he denied being the father.

 

 

 

Content Warning: The following article you are about to read may contain written material of a serious factual nature that may be disturbing to some individuals. Reader discretion is advised. 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

This may be quite lengthy, but I’m going to attempt to describe what it is like to be adopted. And this is entirely from my own point of view.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist home, where they told us from the very beginning that we were adopted. My adoptive mother’s side of the family immediately accepted me as one of their own. However, my adopted father’s side of the family always made it clear that I was the adopted kid. It was true, of course. But it was said in a similar way as a racist would unnecessarily describe a man as being a black man; true, but unnecessary and derogatory. Eventually, they started to be more accepting as I started to excel musically.

Even as a young child, I often imagined one day meeting my “real” family, and to be able to finally know someone like me. I can honestly say that not a day went by that I didn’t think of my birth mother several times a day. As I became an adolescent, I started to struggle with depression associated with not having a birth mother who loved me.

I kept thinking of the phrase, “someone only a mother could love”, and I thought that if she couldn’t love me, who could? I decided that I was a mistake that needed to be corrected.

Slight aside: the family I grew up with hunted a lot. In Mississippi, a poison called Anectine is legal to use on arrows for deer hunting. It is a powerful muscle relaxer.

Back to my point: in order to correct my birth mother’s mistake, I decided to ingest an entire bottle of this stuff. Nothing happened. I went to plan b. I diluted the powder in water and injected it directly into a vein in my arm; just like you see the heroin addicts on TV. It would have been way easier to just put a gun to my head or jump off a bridge. But I didn’t want to burden anyone with having to clean up a mess.

Using all my fading strength, I emptied the syringe and was barely able to pull it from my arm. I immediately collapsed onto the concrete slab in front of the band hall at school. All my muscles didn’t work except one; my heart. I heard my heart beating strongly until I went into a dream like state from lack of air. I don’t know how long I was out. I remember chanting in my head, “Just let me die”, over and over again.

At some point, I realized that I was actually hearing what I was chanting in my ears. I thought to myself, if I’m hearing it, I’m making sound with my mouth, which means air is moving. Eventually, all my muscles regained use. At the time, I thought it must be Devine intervention. Only years later did I learn that humans possess an enzyme that slowly breaks down the poison.

I still wanted to die. However, I had started questioning my ability to ascend to heaven if I committed suicide. So, during my junior year of high school I signed up to enlist in the army. I took the ASVAB test and scored very high, allowing myself to have my choice of any job in the army. I chose infantry. I though it would be the job most likely to die doing. And it wouldn’t be suicide. However, during my time in service, I realized that it was my job to keep all of my fellow soldiers alive. And the best way to do that was to stay alive myself.

Don’t get me wrong; I volunteered for more than my fair share of crazy dangerous things. I met my wife while I was in the army. Since then it’s my duty to live for her.

Fast forward to finding my birth mother: like many adoptees, I had this Hallmark Channel worthy fantasy about our loving reunion. She got my letter and called and said never to contact her or her family ever again. Needless to say, I was devastated. I think at that moment I was experiencing every human emotion all at once. While I had intended to also contact my half siblings anyway, maybe I did so with my sister somewhat out of anger and spite toward my birth mother. This sister and I get along well. My wife and I have met her in person a few times now. We’ve been in her house twice, and met her husband and my beautiful niece and nephew. Still nothing from my birth mother. She’s the wife of a Southern Baptist pastor. My sister thinks that they’re afraid that their congregation might find out that she had a child out of wedlock.

I recently told my adoptive parents about finding my birth mother and sister. They have no sympathy for my feelings. Instead, they worry for my birth mother’s feelings. They think I was a jerk to contact my sister against my birth mother’s wishes. So now here I am without any parental support. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but those adolescent thoughts are returning.

That’s all for now.

Gary Eugene

Adult Adoptee

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

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted-Patrick Hawes

FullSizeRender
My sister Tracy & I

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

BIO:  My Name is Patrick and I am a 45 year-old adoptee in Virginia but born in North Carolina. I was adopted at the age of five weeks old.  My adopted parents were older at the time they adopted me (father was 47 and mom was 42), I was an only child. My adopted mom was Japanese, so there was no way to hide the fact that I was not her biological son!  My adopted father passed away when I was four. I had a nice, wonderful childhood and never really thought about searching for my birth family growing up. I am married to a wonderful woman and we have one son who is almost 8. My adopted mom passed away 11 years ago and that’s where my journey to find my birth family begins.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

After my adopted mom passed away in 2004, I felt a strong desire to begin looking for my birth family. I am in the military and at the time I was stationed in Hawaii which made searching for my birth family a challenge. I called the Department of Social Services in North Carolina and was told that adoption records are sealed and I could not access them without a court order and that would take a lot of work! What they did send me however was called “non-identifying” information. Basically a piece of paper with very basic information on my biological parents and their families without any names, addresses etc. but I didn’t give up. I went on the internet and found a website for adoptees from North Carolina which had search angels in it that would assist adoptees in their search. I put in my information and within a few days I received an e-mail back and in it was my birth mothers name, Judy! At first I was shocked that the information came so quick, but then fear gripped me. “What if she doesn’t want to hear from me, what if she has a life and doesn’t want to remember that part of her past?” So many emotions went through me. You see I had been told by my adopted mom that my birth mom was very young when she had me and did not want a kid and couldn’t afford one at that time. I would later discover this to be untrue, but I’ll get to that later. I held on to my birth mothers name for over 10 years before really getting serious about finding her, mostly because I was moving so much, sometimes to overseas locations which made doing any search difficult.

HITTING THE SEND BUTTON

When my family and I moved to Virginia in 2013, I told my wife I wanted to begin a serious all out search for my birth mother, but really any member of my birth family was what I really wanted to find! In early 2015, I ran across a FB page for adult adoptees from North Carolina. I put in all the info I had and was again given the same name for my birth mother, Judy. Then about an hour later, I got a private FB message from one of the search angels and it contained a picture of my birth mom from when she got married! It was a surreal feeling to look at a picture of someone and see distinct resemblance to myself. Then later that night as I was watching TV with my wife, I got another message from the same search angel and in it was a high school yearbook picture of my maternal Aunt along with a link to her FB page! My Aunt had given her e-mail address in her FB profile so I composed a very simple two sentence e-mail introducing myself, telling her who I was and that I had reason to believe that her sister was my birth mother. I must have read that e-mail 50 times over. I had my wife read it and told her “Ok, you realize once I hit the send button, there’s no turning back!” So with some trepidation, I hit send! Within 10 minutes, my Aunt responded. She told me that she didn’t have much information because she was young at that time and that her parents were both deceased but there were some family friends who might know some information. She also told me that my birth mother, Judy, had a massive stroke about 4 years prior and was living in a nursing home in North Carolina. She also told me “My husband and I looked at your FB profile and you look very much like Judy’s daughter! Tracy” I looked at my wife and said with excitement “I have a sister!!” We tried looking through my Aunt’s FB friends for my sister, but couldn’t really find her because her page was private. There were so many emotions going through me but little did I know this was just the beginning of my journey.

 

A GIFT FROM GOD

About a week went by before I heard from my maternal Aunt. She had reached out to some family friends back in her hometown. They told her that my birth mother had been sent away to a home for unwed mothers to have me mainly to keep my birth fathers family from interfering with putting me up for adoption. They told my Aunt that my birth mom was not given a choice regarding putting me up for adoption. They also said when my mom came back after having me, the only thing my birth mom told them was that she had a boy. My birth mom never spoke about it gain. I felt so bad for my birth mother. For so many years, I had this anger in me about being put up for adoption. Questions like “Why did my birth mother not want me”, “Why was I not good enough for her.” These were all based on information I had been told by my adopted mom. Now I was finding the truth..my birth mother was not given a choice! Her parents made the decision for her. Immediately, my feelings towards my birth mom changed and more than ever I wanted to meet my her so I could let her know I was ok and that I didn’t have any anger towards her.

Another week passed before my maternal Aunt reached out to my sister to tell her about me. My Aunt asked me not to contact Tracy before she did. I of course obliged her request. One night I was sitting at home and got a FB message from my sister Tracy!. We discovered we not only had the same mom, but the same father. We were full blood brother and sister! WOW! My mind was blown! I also found out I had a half brother. Over the course of several more weeks, Tracy and I talked every day, sometimes for hours. We talked on the phone for the first time in March 2015. We talked for close to 4 hours! We had an instant connection.

In June 2015, I was travelling for work to South Carolina, which is where both my Aunt and my sister Tracy live. For the first time in my life, I sat across the table from people I shared blood relation with. It was life changing! The meeting was amazing and so wonderful. I found out so many details about my family but the most amazing part was finding God. You see being raised by a Japanese mom, I was raised and practiced Buddhism all my life. But during this trip, God began speaking to me through my sister and her example of living for God When I got home to Virginia, I began my relationship with Christ and it has been amazing! I was Baptized in July this year!

Tracy and I talk to each other almost every other day and she has truly become one of my best friends.It’s almost as if we were never separated for 45 years!

I have not met my birth mom yet, mainly due to the fact that there is no way to know how much she remembers because of her stroke. I also do not want to upset her or bring up any pain for her. If its God’s plan for me to meet her, it will happen. Tracy keeps me updated on her and because of that I feel close to her in someway. I don’t regret for one minute hitting the send button and meeting my birth family. Thank you for allowing me to share my story!

Patrick H. Adult Adoptee

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted- Crista White

ChristaChadwickHOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

BIO: My name is Crista and I’m a 46 year old adoptee in Colorado. I was adopted at the age of one month after being placed in a foster home immediately after birth. I was fortunate enough to be adopted by a family who longed for a baby after having one “natural” child, then losing the second one to stillbirth and being told any further pregnancies would result in the death of the baby AND my mother. I was treasured and given much love in my home, and truly was never treated differently from my older sister. But I felt different. I suppose that is what led me to search for my birthparents, as well as wanting to reassure them I was ok. I have three children of my own now and spend my time writing, and hoping someday to obtain the information I need to be able to research my personal family history.

FINDERS WEEPERS

When Adoption Reunions Go Wrong…

Adopted at birth by two wonderfully loving and supportive parents, I didn’t give a lot of thought to searching for my birthmother—even though my adoptive parents had always offered their support of my doing so—-until I had a child of my own, and the need to tell this faceless person that I was alright, that she had made the right decision, was overwhelming to me. I couldn’t imagine never seeing my child again, and I suddenly became very concerned about the woman who had given me life. I could only suspect that her worry and anguish were unbearable.
The media does an amazing job of portraying “adoption reunion” stories with fairy tale endings, where all the parties involved are blissfully complete, now that they have found each other. They are most oftentimes warm and touching portrayals of a lifechanging event, and although I don’t doubt the authenticity of those occurances, I learned for myself in a very real and personal way that there are exceptions to these happy reunions…….there was no way for me to prepare for what I experienced, and given the abundance of evidence on these “feel good” reunion shows, it’s no surprise that I was blindsided and heartbroken by what came to be.

Starting My Search In Earnest…

When I finally made the decision to begin searching for my birthmother, I didn’t have alot of options open to me: My husband and I were newlyweds and living on a full time student income—very little—while I stayed home to take care of our new baby. We didn’t have much access to a computer so I researched what I could about registries to join where my name might be matched in a database with anyone else who was looking for me. After 3 years of no results, my husband came to me with a plan: he would cash in his unused sick time from his new job and we would use that money for me to hire a Confidential Intermediary to contact my birthmother. At that time, hiring a CI cost $475 and that didn’t include any extra expenses that might be incurred along the way. I was touched by my husband’s unselfishness and, after filling out the required forms, I sent off my payment to Colorado Confidential Intermediary Services….and waited for the rollercoaster ride to begin.

The Phone Call….

I was weeks away from my 30th birthday, when I received the call that would be the beginning of a life changing experience. The intermediary assigned to my case had located my birthmother—up to that point, I don’t think I had entertained the idea that she might possibly reject me—–the television shows made it seem unlikely that would ever happen, and I think that somewhere in my mind, I reasoned that since I could never imagine rejecting MY child, it only followed that she would feel similarly. My only real fear was that she might be deceased and that I would have missed out on the chance of getting to know her. As fate would have it,she was still living at the same address as she had been at the time of my birth—and she was anxious to meet me. She informed the CI that she wished to get to know each other first through letters, if I was agreeable with that, with a meeting sometime in the future. The tears came and it became clear to me that I had longed for this outcome even more than I realized…..the relief was overwhelming.

Secret Correspondence…

When I was finally given the green light to start writing to my birthmother, I had no idea the hoops she and I would have to go through in order to maintain a postal relationship. First, we were not allowed to put any sort of “identifying information” in our letters to each other—meaning we could not share our names, our addresses, or anything else that might give the other person a way to locate us. Second, we were not allowed to write directly to each other. All our letters had to be mailed to the home of the intermediary, where she would check to make sure our letters were “appropriate” and then put them in a new envelope, with her address in the sender’s place, and mail it off to us. As strange as the arrangement seemed, I was eager for any opportunity to communicate with her, so I followed the rules.
The anticipation of receiving my first letter from her was nearly unbearable, and when it finally arrived, I studied every word. I remembering thinking that up until this very moment, this woman had never seemed like a real person to me…she had been a fictional character I had been told about as a child. But now, holding a letter from her hand, she was an actual person. Someone who truly existed and had a name….although I still wasn’t allowed to know it.
Our letters to each other went back and forth for several months, both of us sharing what we could without being too overly descriptive. I learned that she had been a single mother of three small children when she became pregnant with me. Her husband (her children’s father) had committed suicide sometime previously, and MY father (whom she only referred to once as ‘the unkind man who produced you’) was not part of her life, for reasons she never elaborated on.
I learned many things about her that helped clarify why I felt so different from my adoptive family—I had always, always felt loved and accepted by them, to be clear. But there was no denying that my interests, views, and personality differed from theirs in many ways. It was easy to see that I didn’t LOOK like any of them, but there were times when it felt like we weren’t similar in ANY respect, and it caused me to feel a little “odd”. When I finally realized that many of my interests were similar to HERS, it was an enormous comfort to me. I had a million questions I wanted to ask her about her childhood, her other children, her late husband, and family history that I was so curious to learn about. But I didn’t want to overwhelm her with questions, and I figured we had all the time in the world to learn about each other, so I kept most of the questions to myself. I had no idea that “all the time in the world” was about to come to an abrupt end.

The Mistake…

About 5 months in to our correspondence, I received a phone call one day from the Intermediary. She seemed to fumble over her words as she spoke to me and finally admitted that she had failed to let my birthmother and I know, at the beginning of this process, that we only had 6 months to write to each other through her. After the alloted 6 months time, we would either need to sign documents allowing her to release our information to each other—and be free to continue our communication at our own leisure—or the case would be closed and we would no longer have access to each other. The news took both of us by surprise, but my birthmother was blindsided and angered by the new “stipulations” and felt like she had been unfairly backed into a corner. I dont know what experiences she had faced in life that caused her to feel like she needed to fight back so fiercely about being given this sort of ultimatum, but in a final letter to me, she explained that she had not stood up for herself other times in her life, and had regretted it. She was not going to let someone dictate to her what the timetable of our relationship was and she was not currently able to reveal her identity to me. She would refuse to sign the papers.
The following day, I received another call from the Intermediary, telling me that my birthmom (at this point, I had grown weary of calling her that so I had given her the nickname ‘Sue’) had asked her if there was a way for her to preserve HER anonymity but to receive MY information, thereby enabling her to write me letters directly and she would just get a PO Box. For a moment I hesitated; I wasn’t sure how I felt about giving her all my information and still having NONE of hers, but I knew that if I wanted our communication to continue—and I did—this was the only option. It would be a long time before I would have the money to reopen the case, and from everything she had shared with me, her financial situation was no better. I had been given the opportunity to tell her thank you for giving me such a wonderful chance at life and I could walk away now. But I wanted her to be a part of my life and I wanted to know so much more about her and my heritage still. I made the decision to sign the papers, releasing all my identifying information to her. And then I waited for letters that would never come.

Confusion…

Several months went by as I waited for that first letter to come. Each day I would walk to the mailbox, thinking surely today would be the day I would hear from her. At some point I began to worry, thinking something must have happened to her. Our letters to each other had been so pleasant and she had mentioned how she thought I was a really wonderful human being. She had even told me that all her children knew I had come back into her life, and that her middle son in particular was excited to meet me someday. I had grown up without any brothers, so this information had been especially touching to me. Finally, I contacted the Intermediary, hoping she would remember our case and be able to give me some sort of clues as to what was happening. I was disappointed to learn that she barely remembered anything about our case, and could only offer speculation as to why I hadn’t heard from her yet. She suggested that, in order to help me get over my loss, I write one last letter to “Sue” and mail it off to her. She cautioned that she wouldn’t be able to pass it along since the case was now closed, but maybe it would help me to be able to move forward. And in a moment of sadness and frustration, I did. I wrote a letter asking the woman who had given me life how she could be so devoid of feelings for her own child that she could not even allow me the privilege of knowing her first name, when I had been willing to allow her every last bit of information about myself. I sent the letter, and hoped healing would come.

Unforeseen Endings…

I wish I could tell you that a letter finally arrived or a phone call came, and I was able to have the reunion I longed for, but things didnt turn out that way. Ten years later ,in a strange twist of events, CCIS was made aware of the Intermediary’s error of not informing my birthmother and myself of the 6 month time limit from the very beginning, and ruled that it was partially to blame for the unfortunate outcome of our contact. In an effort to rectify the situation, they allowed me to reopen the case at a very reduced rate with a different Intermediary. I felt euphoric, knowing I would soon be in touch with my birthmother again, this time both of us knowing what the timetable would be. My only fear was that, because so much time had passed without hearing from her, that she had possibly passed away, so I prepared myself for that possibility. But nothing could have prepared me for what I learned the day my CI called me.
She had easily located “Sue” and briefly explained why the case was being reopened. Given the Intermediary’s understanding of the events, I’m sure even SHE was surprised at my birthmother’s response. According to the CI, ‘Sue’ expressed her disbelief at being contacted. She said that she thought she had been quite clear about not wanting to pursue a relationship with me, and when questioned about the PO box, she denied she ever offered to get one and write to me, although she did admit to having all my information and knew that she could contact me if she chose to. She also said that she felt I had not understood or repected her wishes, given this intrusion in her life as well as the final letter I wrote her—the one where I poured out my feelings in the hopes it would help me “heal”. The letter that I was told would never be sent to her.
The CI waited quietly on the other end of the line as I struggled to speak through the sobs that were escaping. I couldn’t explain why I was so upset. My whole purpose in finding my birthmother had been to thank her and reassure her that my life had turned out well. My adoptive family was the only family I knew and loved, and I certainly wasn’t looking for this woman to replace them. I had only hoped that she and I could continue to be part of each other’s lives in a way that was agreeable to both of us. I had never asked her to be a grandparent to my children, or to even meet face to face. I had assured her in one of my letters that if we NEVER met, it was okay with me, because I was just enjoying the opportunity to learn more about her through our letters. So why was I so distraught that she seemed to be rejecting me…again?
Maybe I was disappointed to think I might never meet the “big brothers” I now knew I had. Certainly I was saddened to know that I might never have the chance to ask all the questions I had for her. But mostly, I was hurt to think that the woman who had given me life could now seem to be so cold. The mother who had raised me had been such an amazing example of a loving and nurturing human being, that I could only assume that ALL mothers felt that way for their children. The fact that “Sue” was turning me away was something I didn’t know how to process.

Saying Goodbye…

In order for the CI to close the case, she gave both of us an opportunity to pass along a final message to each other. My birthmother’s message to me was brief and unemotional. She apologized for any misunderstanding but stated it had never been her intention to have a relationship with me. That was basically it. To say I felt devastated by the lack of warmth or concern for me would be an understatement, and I’m ashamed to say that my first impulse was to tell the CI that I had nothing to say back to her. But I knew this would most likely be my last words to her in this life, and the fact remained that her decision to put me up for adoption had indeed put me in a family that loved me and given me opportunities I would not otherwise have had. Clearly, if I had stayed with her, my experience with motherhood would have been vastly different. So I chose to look at the positives and decided that, if nothing else came from this experience, I wanted her to still know and understand that I would forever be grateful for her decision to place me for adoption and I would never regret the time I spent searching for her.
It’s been 7 years since I wrote my final goodbye to her for the CI to read, and although I have been able to work through most of the heartbreak I felt at that time, recognizing that all things have a purpose in our lives and that I am blessed beyond measure to have a family that loves and supports me, I still admit that a piece of me hopes to find a letter in my mailbox one day, saying: “Ive had a change of heart–I’d like to be part of your life again”.
If that never comes to be, I take comfort knowing that I was able to thank her for giving me life and leave her with the knowlege that I care deeply about the woman who remains nameless.

“I just want to express to you how truly sorry I am for making this unwanted reappearance in your life— please know and understand that it was due to misinformation that was given to me by the first CI, and my obvious inability to read between the lines. I feel so terribly foolish. I find it sadly ironic that in my attempt to reach out to you, I have somehow managed to cause the very thing I was afraid of.
For me, this had never been about burdening you with additional family or responsibilities…my only hope was to have a comfortable relationship between just the two of us, and to someday learn more about my heritage and roots.
Although I am saddened by your decision, I continue to treasure the letters you wrote, and feel blessed at having had a moment in time to know you…my love and appreciation for you continue, and my door remains open.”

Crista White, Adult Adoptee

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted- Pamela Karanova

BIO: I’m an adult adoptee who’s reunited with my biological family. I navigated my search and reunion, and now I’m sharing my journey with the world.

Through my life I battled addictions, abandonment & rejection issues as well as low self-esteem, anger and rage as a result of my adoption experience. I felt alienated growing up, and no one understood my pain. Over time, finding my TRUTH has allowed me the chance to accept that TRUTH in order to move forward and HEAL.

I reach out to other adoptees seeking to support them in finding their truths through my blog www.adopteeinrecovery.comwww.adopteeinrecovery.com and Facebook page www.facebook.com/howdoesitfeeltobeadopted  I also help with search and reunification. I support adoptee rights and seek to help change adoption laws that restrict knowledge of the truth. I hope my efforts will help other adoptees know that they aren’t alone and that the way they feel is “natural for a not-natural situation” (being separated from biological roots at the beginning of life).

Content Warning: The following article you are about to read may contain written material of a serious factual nature that may be disturbing to some individuals. Reader discretion is advised. 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

CAN I CRY NOW?

When I searched for my birth mother I was all alone, with no support or guidance.

There was no help.

Can I cry now?

My adoptive mom told me my birth mother loved me “So Much. that’s why she gave me away ” but when I found her she didn’t want to know me.

Can I cry now?

Never in a million years would I expect the woman that loved me “SO MUCH” to reject me…

Can I cry now?

When my adoptive mother told me I made her dreams come true to be a mother, there was no room for my sadness or tears because for her dreams to come true, I lost an entire family and my mother.

I couldn’t ruin her dream come true by my sadness?

Can I cry now?

When my adoptive mother lied to me about finding my birth family, and told me when we had enough money we would get the sealed records opened I hung onto that hope. It was a lie.

Can I cry now?

When I saw a billion therapists, counselors, was put on medications, locked up in rehab, and juvenile jail.. No one ever asked me if my pain was from losing my first family or being separated from my biological mother. Not once.

Can I cry now?

When I contemplated suicide as a teenager, I kept it a secret because no one cared about my feelings.

Can I cry now?

No one has ever asked how it felt growing up not mirroring anyone and feeling alone and isolated.

Can I cry now?

Everyone told me how to feel, and that I should be thankful I wasn’t aborted.

Can I cry now?

When my birth father’s rights were stolen, and he wasn’t even told about my existence yet 2 people adopt me and don’t even think twice…

Can I cry now?

I had high hopes, but when I showed up at his door to introduce myself he knew nothing about me.

He denied I was his daughter.

He told me to “Go To Hell”.

Can I cry now?

Because of this I will never EVER have ONE MEMORY, NOT ONE WITH A BIOLOGICAL GRANDPARENT!

CAN I CRY NOW??!

Because of things I had no control over, I missed out on relationships with my siblings growing up.

Lost time never to return.

Can I cry now?

Someone else’s dream come true is my biggest loss, yet I’m supposed to be THANKFUL FOR THIS LIFE?

Can I cry now?

Stuck in the middle of 2 families, feeling torn between the 2 yet never really fitting into either…

Can I cry now?

My birthday is like dooms day. Yet I’m forced to put on a smile. It was the day I lost everything.

Can I cry now?

When I searched for my biological mother everywhere I went, no one cared that all I wanted was HER.

Can I cry now?

But her loving me “SO MUCH” was a lie too, because when I found her SHE DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO GET TO KNOW ME.

Can I cry now?

It’s been torture not knowing WHO I AM or WHERE I CAME FROM.

Can I cry now?

My broken heart is dismissed by everyone, because adoption is such a glorious thing.

Can I cry now?

For everyone that tells me I should just get over it, move on, or suck it up, or I’m just focused on the past and its negative…

Until you have walked one day in my shoes, you can’t judge me.

Can I cry now?

Because I feel like the WORLD is up against me

Can I cry now?

I will pretend when you see me, everything is OK because I’ve been conditioned to do that since I found out I was adopted.

But today I want to ask YOU if I can cry now?

When all my pain has been locked inside for over 40 years because the WORLD GLORIFIES ADOPTION AND THERE IS NO ROOM FOR MY PAIN…

Let me ask…

Can I cry now?

Answer me WORLD who glorifies ADOPTION…

Answer me WORLD who has no room for my PAIN.

CAN I CRY NOW?

I had to fight the WORLD and the CLOSED ADOPTION LAWS to find my TRUTH so I could move forward and HEAL

Can I cry now?

Now that I’m not running from the pain of my reality, and I’m 3 years into sobriety, not drinking or drugging to numb my pain

Can I cry now?

Since society, and the WORLD and everyone impacted by adoption denied me my right to grieve growing up, finally at 41 years old

Let me ask…

Can I cry now?

Remember crying is healing.

Sharing feelings is healing.

WORLD WHO GLORIFIES ADOPTION…

You have to FEEL it to HEAL it…

CAN I CRY NOW?

Find me on Facebook!

Pamela Karanova

Reunited Adult Adoptee

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted- Lynne Rachell


HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED

BIO: Lynne Rachell is an adoptee who reunited with her birth family in 2004. She enjoys writing about her reunion, and her experiences in finding herself along that journey.  You can find her poetry and musings about adoption, music and food on her blog at www.listenupsidedown.com

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Much Less So

Hello. Tis morning

you invade my thoughts once more

this time, much less so

Each time, I’m startled

by soft rain of tears inside

wounds reopened

violent impact

upon your crash landing

but you never notice

the atmosphere shift

the ozone layers, my heart

depleting more, see

your eyes overcast

you play me as the extra

each interaction

moment of our lives

hostage to bloodlines formed long

ago, egg, sperm, time

five minutes of lust

a lifetime of consequence

stars never aligned

I welcome the ride

reject your disasterous

damaging entry

Implore you to go

Or stay, remain in my dreams

Waiting, for response

an answer that won’t

come easily, or quickly

now, shallow breathing

in slumber you love

me, think of me, but only

give chase til I wake

As the sun rises

sets, by sullen, angry sky

you are swallowed whole

Gone. Tis morning again

you invade my thoughts each time

each time, much less so

Lynne Rachell

Adult Adoptee