How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Jim Serrano

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BIO: My name is Jim Serrano. I’m 57 and I was raised in Gilroy, California and currently still live here. I retired after 31 years as a Concrete Ready-Mix driver of the Teamster Union. I met my wife on a blind date and we are going to be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary in July. We have one daughter who is going to be turning 33 in June. I started my search for my birth parents when I was 38, this is my story.

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

Twice Adopted

By: Jim Serrano

You are probably wondering why I called my story twice adopted; well here is the journey and the facts as to why the title sums up my life. I was adopted at two weeks of age and the second adoption was seven years ago when I found unconditional love from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I guess this is where I start at the beginning; I was adopted when I was two weeks old by my parents Joe and Lupe Serrano, which was 45 years ago. I was raised in Gilroy, California and grew up in a very strict household. The first time I found out that I was adopted I was about 11 years old. My parents, brothers, and sisters would tell me they got me at the supermarket all through my teenage years. I always had it in the back of my mind, that maybe I was adopted. I acted out a lot, which meant I had anger, drugs, and alcohol issues. At the age of 10-11 I was being molested by a male cousin. I always felt unworthy because of my birth parents giving me up for adoption. I figured they didn’t want me.

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My wife, Tina- She’s a big part of my story , She gave me peace. We will be married 35 yrs July 14th

Many years later when I was dating my wife, we were eating dinner and I told her I had something to tell her, so I told her I was adopted, and she said it was okay! Yet in the back of my mind I thought she would think that there was something wrong with me because my birth parents gave me up for adoption, this was 25 years ago.

The next part of the journey would be actually starting to search for my birth parents. Back in 1999 I was watching a TV program about adoption and the program explained how to get un-identifying information so I decided it was time for me to look, for myself, and for my 12 year old daughter.

My journey began with going to my parents and letting them know that I was going to search for my birth parents and if they could please give me all the information that they had. My parent’s reaction was why and I remember my dad telling me, “Are you prepared to find out what’s out there.” My mom was saying if I was trying to replace them. I told them no but I needed to find out what I was.

The information I got said I was born in San Jose and was adopted through the county. I work in San Jose driving a concrete truck so one day after work I went to the count office and asked if I could get my un-identifying information. The woman at the desk told me that those records are closed and I could not get the information I wanted. I came home disappointed and told my wife what happened. She told her brother so he decided to call the social worker that I spoke to and convinced her to call me back in her office to sign a waiver so I could get the information but it could take up to a year to get the information. Two months later the information came in the mail. It stated that my mother was 5ft, 95 lbs., and she worked in a doctor’s office. She was 25 years old at the time of my birth.

My father was Mexican, brown hair and eyes, 5’6, and had a 10th grade education and also worked full time. It was a brief affair and they were not interested in marriage. About three months later at my place of employment I was delivering concrete to a job site and I was talking to a gentleman I have known for 20 years, who’s name is Carlos. He asked me what I had been up too, and I told him I was looking for my birth parents. He proceeded to ask me if I had any information and I told him all the information I knew. He then told me that the information about my birth mother sounded like a girl he knew named Marie who he had dated in the early 60’s. I began to tell him about my birth family which described him to a tee.

I called my wife and told her what had happened and if she could read me the information about my birth father. I went back to the job site and asked Carlos how far he went in school and he stated that he only went up to the 10th grade. We then just looked at each other and thought maybe we were father and son. I asked him if he knew how to a hold of Marie and he said he would try to fine her but it had been 38 years since he has seen her. Two weeks later I was talking to a fellow coworker and he told me he used to date Carlos’ daughter and that he would call her so we would meet. Meanwhile Carlos and I decided to take a blood test. About 9 weeks later I got the results in the mail saying that we were not father and son, which was one of the worst days in my life. When I told him about it we were both devastated.

Six months passed and my wife was talking to a neighbor and she told her that her husband was adopted. So my wife shared with her that I was adopted also. The neighbor told my wife that her husband went to adoptive identity discovery meeting and that’s how he found his birth parents. So I decided to go to the Santa Clara meeting because I was adopted in San Jose. While at the meeting I met a gentleman who helped me with my search. I gave him all my information and he told me he would have a name for me but the time I got home. He called me that night and gave me my birth mothers maiden name. Meanwhile my adopted mother found out she had breast cancer so the guilt started to dig deep into my heat. I thought how I could keep going on with the search.

I decided to keep looking. 6 months past and we narrowed my birth mother’s maiden name to three woman and three addresses. One of them was in San Jose where I worked, so one day I was delivering concrete and saw he address so I pulled over and knocked at the door and asked if they ordered concrete. The person that answered the door was my brother but I didn’t know at the time. Three weeks passed and the gentleman helping me called and told me he found my birth mother and the address I stopped at three weeks ago was where she lived. I got her phone number and called her that night. She answered the phone and I asked her if any of her sons were home and she said no and asked me who I was, and I told her my name was Jim Serrano and she didn’t recognize my name. I asked her if January 22, 1962 mean anything to her, and there was a dead silence. She then proceeded to ask why I was saying these things and asked who it was and I told her this is who you think this is, so she told me she couldn’t talk and to call her tomorrow morning. I hung up and told my wife what happened and was so anxious, confused, and numb. My wife didn’t want me to drive home.

Later that night my wife and I were talking and the phone rang and it was my birth mother, Nolberta and she asked me if we would meet the next day at a Valley Medicare in San Jose because she had an appointment for her kids that morning. I agreed to meet her the next morning. So we meet in the parking lot of Valley Medical. When we saw each other we locked eyed and she hugged me and cried and told me she was sorry, although I had no emotions. She asked me to go along to the appointments she had for her kids. After the appointments we talked and she told me that her husband and kids didn’t know anything about me. She told me that God gave her a second chance with me so she was going to tell her husband and kids about me. She said that she was sacred that her husband was going to kick me out of the house.

Later on that night Nolberta called me and said that her husband and kids were excited to meet me. A week later I met her husband and my two brothers. I didn’t get to meet my sister because she lived in Montana at the time. One thing I noticed was a lot of young children living in her home. Later that night we spoke on the phone and I asked her who all those children were. She stated that they all were her foster children and that they were foster parents for at least 25 years. She said she was paying God back for what she did 38 years ago by giving me up for adoption.

At the same time I didn’t tell my adoptive parents about the meetings. I asked Nolberta of Carlos Bryant was my father and she told me no that my father’s name is Raul Coca. She had not seen him in 39 years. But she knew where his brother worked. So I went to where Raul’s brother worked and that was Hank Coca Furniture in San Jose. A week later I was working so I pulled up in front of the store and I asked for Hank Coca but he was not there so I spoke to Hank Coca Jr. and asked how I could get a hold of Raul Coca. He asked me who I was and I told him I was his son. He was shocked and surprised. I left my phone number and name and also left Nolberta’s name and if he could contact me.

About a month later Nolberta had a BBQ at her home so I could meet the rest of the family. On the way home my wife and I were talking about how well the party went and how nice all my new relatives are. But the only downside was that I hadn’t heard from Raul Coca. When we got home there was a message from Raul on the answering machine. We spoke the next day and we decided to meet that week for lunch. So we meet and we looked a lot like each other, he told me he didn’t know anything about me. He also told me he has never married or had any children. So he asked me if I wanted to go and see where my grandparents were buried so we went to the cemetery and one thing I noticed was that Nolberta’s parents were buried close by. I decided that I wanted to take a blood test to make sure Raul was my biological father.

Six weeks later the results were positive that he was actually my biological father.

Then a few weeks later my wife, daughter and I went to Pacifica to meet the rest of the Coca family. After meeting both families we kept talking to each other for weeks. My 39th birthday was coming up and I found out about a week before that Nolberta was going to throw me a surprise party in Gilroy with all my family and friends from both sides. I wasn’t feeling happy about it because I knew my parents were not comfortable with meeting my birth mother. So that night when I walked into the party, I had to act like I was surprised but I was extremely uncomfortable because my parents were sitting at the same table as Nolberta. That night I proceed to get drunk so I could just not worry about the situation, because I remember that when my mom and dad left the party my dad said we would be talking about it tomorrow.

The next day while I was home my heart started pounding extremely fast and hard. I told Tina to call an ambulance because I though I was having a heart attack. I ended up in the ICU for three days but the doctor’s said it wasn’t a heart attack but actually an anxiety attack. I spoke to a therapist a week later and he started giving me Paxil for depression, I was out of work for a month. The first day I returned to work I was speaking to a friend on a job site and he was really listening to my trials, and asked me to attend church with him on Friday night. I told him maybe, but Friday came and I decided to go to his church. I was late but he was still waiting for me on the steps so my wife and I started going to his church in San Jose for about a month.

One morning before service started I was getting an anxiety attack so I went and took my medication and felt better. After the first worship song I accepted the Lord on that day, March 1st, 2001. I went that day and threw away the Paxil, told my therapist that week what I did but he said it was dangerous for me to do it. I knew the Lord had healed me, so I now know my life is going great even in my trials.

I know the Lord will give me peace in my life.

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My Next Tattoo

            I know you are probably wondering about why I called my testimony twice adopted, it is because in Ephesians 1:5 which speaks about being adopted as sons of God, and it was all planned before we were born.

 

 

Jim Serrano

724 Everest St

Los Banos, CA 93635

Home: (209) 826-3349

Cell: (209) 617-5613

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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? – Marc

strengthBIO: I am 48 years old and grew up in western Canada. I currently work in the field of front line healthcare.  I grew up in a very loving household and have an adopted brother as well from a different birth family.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

Jutta,

I am beginning this letter not knowing what is going to come out of me.  It is being written knowing that I have been deeply hurt and my life affected by your decisions.  I have read numerous articles where the person who was put up for adoption professes their love and appreciation for having been put up for adoption.  Obviously they don’t seem to feel or have not reacted or been affected as I have.  Numerous articles I have read also show a deep and very real hurting and pain that has been thrust upon these people because of being put up for adoption.  I am definitely feeling the latter of these situations.

I have not really had any real desire to find out who you were.  My parents are my parents.  I was told about you, the fact I was rejected and put up for adoption, as soon as I was able to understand what that was.  Somewhere inside me was always a festering and without my even realizing it until everything blew up in my face.  A lonely and feeling of deep loss and an unwillingness to allow many to become close to me. A fear of intimacy and an unwillingness to be helped and only fend for myself.

The day came along that I submitted paperwork to attempt to find you, thinking I should at least know something more of my medical history.  And within the week I received a call from the adoption reunion registry that they had found you.  I recall the flood of mixed emotions which came over me at that time.  My thoughts about it tossed between happiness and confusion, scared and excited.  I never expected it to happen and, now that it did, I didn’t know if I wanted it to continue.

When we met for the first time there was no rush of love or joy for you.  I, instead, recall a feeling at the time I could not describe, but which I now believe to have been a reawakening of old losses and a feeling of abandonment.  A feeling of you being the cause of my lack of being able to be vulnerable and after which has some to interfere in my present life and relationships.

Over the following 4 years these did fade to some degree.  I got to know you a little, met your husband and my half brother and half sister.  I did begin to feel a closeness and an acceptance by you.  And then you called that night.  I don’t even know where to start or how to begin describing the moment.

Shock, crushed, rejection, betrayal, and abandoned again.

I’m not sure what is going on.  What happened?  What prompted you to make that call?  I will never know, but what you said to me will never be forgotten.

 “I want nothing more to do with you.”  

Can you even fathom how that has made me feel?  

What impact that has had on my life?  

Were the past 4 years just a ruse?

 Why did you ever bother to agree to meet me in the first place?

Now along with dealing with the abandonment issues placed upon me when you first rejected me I have to, again, struggle to deal with and figure out the issues associated with my being abandoned twice.  My fear of abandonment has interfered with my relationship with my wife.  I have tended towards self defeating behaviors that sabotage my love life.  Feelings of emotional detachment, difficulty feeling the affection offered by my wife, “pushing them away,” problems you have caused me, nothing but problems.

I wish we had never met or found each other.  I will never understand.  I don’t know how this is going to affect the rest of my life.  I do know that I now more completely understand myself and what I want from my life and what I want to create with my wife and family.

Marc

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

suzygarber3
(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.

suzygarber2
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? – Iris Nova

Nellie

BIO

Age: 31

Adoptive family: My mother, older brother, sister-in-law and a niece. (Dad and eldest brother passed away)

Profession: A journalist

Hobbies: Writing, apart from work; making craft items, usually recycled stuff and playing badminton.

Daily Routine: Wake up, wash, clean, look for stories, go to work, go home, sleep and repeat. Occasionally spend some time with friends

Personality: Keeps changing according to the environment and people I am around. I am loud and look like a horse showing all its teeth when I laugh and I like everyone, if not love, because hate is too strong an emotion.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

I’ll start with what adoption feels like.

It feels like an invisible boulder on your chest. The world looks at you with pity in their eyes when you tell them your adoption story, and you detest those pitiful glances; or maybe like the sympathies people offer because it’s comforting. It is confusing at times –are we even normal for all the complexities it brings, or are we all unique in our own ways because despite the odds, we survived? We survived an unwanted pregnancy, or maybe the unrequited love of those who gave us life.

It is never easy to answer how being adopted feels when we are still confused about our own feelings. ‘I hate my birth mom’, ‘I hate my birth father’, ‘I hate my adoptive parents’, could easily be ‘I love my birth parents and my adoptive parents’.

Everyone’s story of adoption is unique and I will never truly understand the emotions of another adoptee, and they will never truly understand mine because there are so many facets to one similar incident in all of our lives, but we are all connected by that single thread of a word –adoption.

So, here goes my story. Bear with me please.

It was a bright, sunny day in high school. My best friend and I were enjoying recess with other friends. This man comes up behind me and hands me a letter. Says that he had come by to my school several times, but failed to meet me personally since he was told to hand over the letter only to me and no one else.

My best friend and I rush to a corner wondering who sent it. The envelope is marked ‘from your biological father’. For a minute I forget what biological means. Why is my father sending me a letter at school when we are in the same house?

Into the first few paragraphs of the letter and my world comes crashing down. It was one of those moments where you feel like the world is spinning too fast and you have lost control of your mind and body.

I read only one page of the letter and I was already sobbing terribly. There was another man claiming I was his biological daughter. I don’t know why I never read the entire letter at that time, but as an adult now, I know that I didn’t want to learn the truth any further. I only remember one line from the letter I read about 15 years ago, ‘Your mother and I met when we were in college’. And I don’t know where the letter is now.

I tell my bff that we have to rush home right now and inform my parents. We skip school and sneak out. I cry all the way home and see my father sitting in the sun and reading the paper. Sobbing, I hold onto him and show him the letter. I hold onto him so tight, like someone would steal me away from him if I didn’t. He reads the letter and tries to calm me down, and hands it to my mother.

Mom immediately calls up my birth mom’s husband (she married someone else) and starts shouting at him for what his wife and her past lover had done. I heard her and I knew it was the truth. My friend leaves after a while.

By noon, my extended family arrives and they call me out of my room. They try to convince me with the lie that the man who wrote the letter is senile. He’s just playing a cruel joke, and more lies. Since they did not want to tell me the truth, I accepted the lie without any further questions.

I soon understood that the aunt who had come to visit a few weeks earlier was my birth mom. She’s my mom’s cousin. I had met her for the first time in all my 16 years of existence. It was weird to be showered with so much love from a first time visitor and she scared me with her actions -always too touchy feely and loading me with gifts.

During her stay with us, she tried to introduce me to a man. Said ‘someone wants to meet you’, but I don’t know why I said I did not want to meet him. He was just outside our gate beside a red car (I would later find out that he was my birth father).  I thought I was getting kidnapped. That’s what TV shows and articles in magazines had me believing – the ones closest to you try to harm you. In some ways, it was true at that time.

When my birth father failed to meet me that day, he sent me that letter to explain what happened between him and my birth mom.

I was never the same after that day. I cried alone in my room and came out like nothing had happened. My family acted like nothing had happened. Dad was his usual self and as usual handing me chores to do. I feel bad thinking about it, but at that time I felt that they probably wanted a maid and not a child to care for. How wrong I was. They gave me more than I could ever imagine and a million thanks would not suffice.

But things got better since I had my finals coming. I went into study mode but the incident kept haunting me so often that it was difficult concentrating. Then there was college to look forward to, but I still carried the weight of that incident; not knowing what actually happened between my birth parents that lead to my adoption.

I hated my birth father for abandoning my birth mom and me. I was grateful to my birth mom for handing me over to a loving family. My adoptive (I hate that word) parents already had two boys so I was their little angel.

Fast forward to a few years ahead. I did not let the past affect my present, or so I thought. I started dating this really nice guy around the year 2014-15. We had plans of getting married. Then comes the shocker that he’s my first cousin. My birth father had found out and told his entire family of what happened.

I went into full depression and paranoia for about 5-6 months. Every glance by a stranger had me feeling that my birth father probably is getting information from him, from her, from that person across the street, from that lady standing beside me in a shop.

Everyone who knew my story had told me that I needed to forget the past, and I did try, but the past came haunting me on its own. And I hated my birth father even more. I had always told myself that one cannot hate anyone. It’s too strong an emotion, but I hated my birth father…for the consequences his actions had brought to my life.

A few months earlier, I broke up again with another boyfriend. And I was devastated. I felt unloved. I felt that if my birth parents did not want me then why would anyone else, how could anyone else?

The thought of being abandoned and of being constantly being in the wrong relationship wanted me to end my life. It wasn’t worth living any longer. I decided I would hang myself in my rented apartment (I live alone). But maybe I didn’t want to die, I probably wanted someone to listen and learn that I was hurting terribly.

So instead of just doing it, I texted a few people I felt I had wronged. Some texted back asking what was wrong and I told them a few things.  One of my oldest guy friends was one of them. He sensed that I was acting weird and called and I didn’t pick up. He texted asking me to pick up the phone or he’d come and break down the door if that’s what he had to do. We spoke on the phone for an hour or so and I went off to sleep.

But the next day didn’t have me feeling any better and I thought enough of acting I was suicidal and not acting on it. So I went on a pill search. Since the pharmacists don’t give too many of those pills, I had to hop from one store to the other to get at least a strip worth of pills and 3 bottles of cough syrup to down the pills with, along with a bottle of vodka to make it work better.

After work (I work the late night shift), I headed home and downed everything that could go inside me and tried not to puke it out. I had already written a suicide note earlier in the day and went back to writing it. Before that, I texted that friend for the last time that I was tired of acting suicidal to gain sympathy from everyone and switched off my phone. I scribbled on my letter pad for some time. My hands stopped scribbling and my head slowly fell on the table.

Just then, my friend came with other friends and rang on the bell madly. I pushed myself to open the door and fell down on the bed I had made in the living area.

My friends started shouting at me, at times trying to calm me. But everything was a blur and I couldn’t hear a thing they were saying. I was hallucinating at the same time –seeing people who weren’t there; not seeing those who actually were.

They tried to take me to the hospital, but suicide is illegal here and I didn’t know what they would say to the doctors, so I only remember saying ‘I don’t think I took enough pills to kill myself’, and blacked out.

The next morning more friends came, and my entire body started to ache. I had survived the night but I was still extremely sleepy from all the meds and aching all over. My friends massaged me till I went off to sleep.

Everyone asked me why I did what I did, and I couldn’t tell about the affair because it was a secret but that day I realised it wasn’t the affair gone wrong that was bothering me, it was the abandonment by my birth parents.

Soon met a psychiatrist and cried my heart out when I told him everything. And for the first time, I consciously knew that it was my adoption that had troubled me for years.  Every single time something went wrong in my life, I would go back to my adoption thoughts. I knew I had to face my fears or go down that suicide road again.

So I mustered up the courage to learn about myself and reached out to my youngest half-sister. She told me what she knew through her dad. I wasn’t a secret in their house.

She told me that their father was already married with two kids when he had an affair with my birth mom. My birth mom was from another town and when she got pregnant she left for home for reasons the kids do not know well.

When my birth father learnt that I was born, he went to bring me back (I don’t know whether he went to bring my birth mom or not). My maternal grandfather placed a condition –He had to choose between his first family or my mom and me. I understand he couldn’t abandon his first family either, and there would be so much more confusion if he had kept both of them. (Polygamy is not taboo or illegal in this part of our country according to traditional laws, but times have changed and people practise it less now).

So after a few days of trying, he left and I was given away to my adoptive family in secret. My birth father never knew where I was till my birth mother came to meet me and contacted him–that was the time when I first learnt that I was adopted.

So, a few days of chatting and I decided I wanted to meet my youngest half-sister. We met while my best friend (who was there with me when I received the letter) and I were headed for a wedding. It was a short visit, and all my nerves were jittery. I thought I’d cry, but formalities took over. She was nervous too and she said it was like going on a first date. That made me smile a bit because I was super nervous. The eldest half-sister (older than me) was out of town and she had told her sister to show the pictures she has of me in her old college photo album.

I got emotional again. I wondered how they could accept me and love me when I was a reflection of their father’s faults, that I was the result of their father cheating on their mother. But I suppose they were old enough to understand that it wasn’t my fault. That I didn’t ask their dad and my birth mom to get together to have me.

To sum up the long story, I was finally at peace knowing that he came for me. That I wasn’t completely abandoned. I was at peace that the family accepted me. Not that I would go and stay with them, but rejection would’ve surely felt worse.

I still haven’t told my mom (adoptive) that I am in touch with two of my half-sisters, who have been very loving towards me. I have plans of reaching out to my birth father someday, but I am not sure about my birth mom because she has been hiding it from her children and I don’t want to create chaos in their lives.

I was received well by my half-sisters and they tell me that their mom reads my articles and tells them that I wrote something today. She too was ready to accept me, and she had even knitted a sweater for me when her husband and my birth father had gone to bring me.

Things have been going fine for the moment and I am in a better place than I was a few months ago. I am on medication for my anxiety and depression, but the doctor has seen me improve and is trying to take me off the medication slowly.

To all the adoptees in the world, life can be cruel to everyone, including non-adoptees, but the emotional trauma we suffered or are suffering can only be felt by us and no one else. I had a positive response from my half-sisters on my father’s side, but there is no guarantee that I would get the same response from my mother’s side. So I am taking life one step at a time and trying to face my fears instead of the fear feeding off of me.

I never wanted to know about my birth parents because I felt betrayed, but not knowing only ate me up from the inside. I would suggest that everyone make an attempt to reach out. If you are turned away, know that everyone has their reasons, like you do. There is nothing wrong in not wanting to raise the demons of the past, but it’s a loss for everyone involved if neither of you want to face your demons.

Iris Nova

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Jenny Chapman

 chapmanphoto

BIO: I am 43 years old and I live in Columbus, Ohio with my husband and children. I was adopted through Catholic Social Services by loving parents. My adoption was closed. I have a sister who is two and a half years younger than me (she is my parent’s biological child). I work as a paralegal for the litigation department of a law firm. I am very excited to share my story!

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

I am 43 years old and I was relinquished at birth and adopted through a closed adoption. I was adopted by wonderful parents. I have a younger sister (who is my parent’s biological child). I wondered all my life about my birth parents and I did not have any way to find out the answers because of closed records. I can’t adequately express how awful it is to grow up and not know anything about my biological family. And then when I was 18 I could only receive vague information (non-identifying).

As a child I was envious of other families that looked alike. I didn’t talk about my adoption with anyone outside of my family until I was 16 years old. I didn’t have the confidence to tell anyone and I didn’t trust anyone to not somehow use the information to make me feel bad about myself. I didn’t share that I was adopted with other adoptees. Once I was in high school, I was able to talk about it because I felt secure in who I am. I didn’t think there would be a negative result in sharing the information. I was glad I did because it was a relief to not keep this secret about myself any longer.

As time went on I was able to obtain my birth mother’s last name from a birth index. In 2011, I did online research and figured out who she is. I sent her a Facebook message but I did not hear back. Since her page was public, I could see photographs and learn a few things about her. She lives on the other side of the country and my children were very young at the time and I didn’t think it was a good time to go and try to meet her. Then in 2015, Ohio opened their records and I obtained my original birth certificate. There wasn’t a birth father listed. So I contacted her again because I wanted to know his name. I did not hear back. Then, I decided to contact her sister (also through Facebook). She replied right away and my birth mother contacted me by email and gave me his name and some other information.

I called my birth father last month and spoke with him. He was excited to hear from me and he shared some information about his family. I have written him a few letters and he has emailed me. He invited me to visit.

The most exciting part of my story is I found out I have a full sister who is one year and 26 days older than me. She was also adopted and has been in reunion for over 20 years with our birthmother’s family. She was born in a different state than me with different rules. My birthmother did not tell her about me. I know she would have found me because my file was updated with the agency and I had my information on all of the search sites. The only reason my birth sister was told was because I went through my birth mother’s sister who also did not know about me.

How does it feel to be adopted?

When adoption is closed it feels like there is always some kind of background noise in my life. When I didn’t have any information, I was always wondering what the answers are. Now that I know who they are, the background noise is gone.

I am very excited about meeting my birth family in person! It isn’t possible for me to be disappointed. I am not worried about a bad result although I know that not all reunions go well. I am happy to share my story and I love reading the other stories on this website.

By Jenny Chapman

Adult Adoptee

Contact Jenny at: jennychapman29@yahoo.com

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Lesley Halliday

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BIO: I`m from the far north of England where I was raised , my adopters emigrated to Australia when I was a teen . I`m raising my  15 year old daughter here on the coast of Western Australia.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

Monday 12th December 2016 … 

Its been 13 days since I was given access to my adoption records .. The window of space in between then and now has seemed a time continuum , I`ve barely recognised the passing days overlapping into one another. I stopped noticing my beautiful garden , I didn`t even hear the lovely bird song nature brings . I`ve been deaf & dumb & blind to things .  Like a tea bag left inside a cup of stagnant water , I was Steeped into an anguish , panic , grief and a terrible Rage building towards a brutal , narcissistic machine that is Society.

I was born , adopted and raised in the far north or England in the 1960`s , my adoption

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My Daughter Katie & I.

records were sent from the U.K to a nominated adoption agency here in Perth , Western Australia , ( where I`m raising my beautiful 15 year old daughter Katie )  I`ve had my original birth certificate for years but never knew there were adoption records , at 48 years of age its been a revelation.

I saw my Mothers tiny , sweet handwriting for the first time and to me , it was tangible , I felt like an Addict just before I looked . I was really needing the Respite and Relief and Comfort of a Hit and seeing my Mothers handwriting and reading her words felt akin to Connection and temporary Relief.

In my life , the term `Birth Mother` has never applied to my own Mother . Its never felt a true term to represent or describe her . She is my full , beautiful Mother . From the age of about 6 years I`d feel a sense panic rising from time to time , a feeling of dread would seep into my consciousness , I knew my Mother was desperately unhappy and I knew she needed me and i`d feel shocked by the feelings and eventually they`d ebb away until next time.

In those moments of childhood awareness , I needed my Mother and I swallowed the need until it passed . I wanted to Protect her . I wanted her to collapse into my chest and i`d visualize it happening , she`d come to me and fall into me and we`d dissolve into each other.

The term `Birth Mother` is a Detached little bauble of a phrase which hangs alongside all the other pretty baubles of Untruth in decorating this essential Tree of Life .. until its branches are masked & weighed downwards beneath such Shiny Little Lies

The Mother is thrown away like a Christmas tree after its been Cut and used then discarded.

I used an adoption service to search for my mother , I provided researchers with letters and documents which had my Mothers name and her previous address and the name of her home town and my birth year Splashed all over them and .. Eventually they did find a Lesley Halliday . The researcher had typed the birth year of 1967 into her search bar and sure enough a Lesley Halliday was born that year to a Wendy Halliday , ( my Mothers name ) and the researcher decided that this Lesley Halliday was Me .

But I was born in 1968

The researcher found lots of information about this 1967 Lesley and while she was writing to the Mother of this Lesley and awaiting a reply … My own Mother died

I could not reach my Mother in time

My Mother died in unusual circumstances which remain an mystery , she was found 3 days after her death on her kitchen floor by a neighbor . She`d suffered two brain hemorrhages , one was specific to a blow to the back of the head , an inquest into her death was opened then closed unresolved.

After i`d brought home my adoption records , I was digesting it all , I wasen`t in a good state but at the same time I joined a search group on Facebook . My fathers name had been noted in my records , I know he would be 80 years old by now  . If he is alive I needed to find him

Rewind to the past :

Its noted in my adoption records that my adopters already had two sons and they wished to adopt for ideological reasons being that ; it was more ethical  to take an existing child rather than make a new one

Truth is my adopters had children and didn`t actually Need an extra one . They Didn`t Need me . My Mother Needed me and I Needed her

My adoptive family were academics , intellectuals and logical , free thinking people . I Spent my childhood feeling like a fish out of water . One of my adopters barely tolerated my presence and wasen`t shy in letting me know this . This adopter wanted me to leave and live with someone else when I was about 9 years old I think , but my other adopter was compassionate to me , I stayed living with them until I ran away when I was 16

I have very few memories of childhood , it was depressive , I was unhappy and displaced.

Neither of my adopters told me they loved me , they didn`t love me and I didn`t love them but I did value the compassion one of my adopters gave me . In saying this , I wish the adopter didn`t feel sorry for me because this adopter didn`t feel sorry for their biological children .. receiving the compassion made me kind`ve stand out to a degree as if I was different and .. I was always treated differently by both adopters

Amongst their family dynamics I became the perfect and most obvious little black sheep to pick as I was unhappy and when one becomes this , there is little scope for the family members to later alter their perception or view of me despite my growing into an adult , ( as slow and as stunted as that process was )

My adopters never introduced me to my Indian heritage , I grew up fearing Indians because they look like me . But my adopters family were lily white , I stood out when I wanted to hide or at least not stand out so much

Back to the present ;

So I joined a Facebook search group to begin looking for my father and from there someone told me there`s another group dedicated to my mothers home town .. I joined.

I wrote a post describing my mother , I noted her old address and asked if anyone remembered or knew her . Many people did know her . They immediately commented that they did and knew my Grandparents too and as soon as I thanked them and asked questions … the thread came to a grinding halt . It was as if people suddenly realized they could be breaching relationships and ties if they disclosed too much information . They scurried away and drew their curtains.

But all people described my mother as being .. Very attractive & beautiful , quietly spoken , intelligent , timid and .. mentally unstable.

A few people did message me privately . Three people told me everything they knew and I fell apart.

Rewind to the past ;

My father was a 32 year old Indian Doctor in my birth year of 1968 . He`d studied Medicine at a University in France then became a Registrar in an English Hospital near my mothers home town . Her town is described as a mining village , it was small and isolated in the 1960`s . My mother was a student nurse in another hospital and my parents had met at a friend’s party.

There was a fairly grim view of Interracial relationships in my mothers era and especially amongst her village folk . My parents fell in love . They conducted their romance away from her village . They discussed marriage and at one point my mother approached her father about the possibility of it .. He was a very strict man and was dead against marriage owing to my fathers nationality , ( this is noted by my mother in adoption records )

My fathers parents may or may not have guessed he was seeing an English girl but as my parents romance unfolded , my fathers parents decided the time for my his Arranged Marriage had come . My father left the country , he was sent abroad to marry someone else , my parents romance was doomed

Soon after his departure , my mother discovered her pregnancy , she was devastated over losing my father and then .. She realised she was carrying their baby x

But she knew there were difficulties ahead .. At some point during her pregnancy my mother was sent to a Mother & Baby Home in the South of England

I`ve since researched the mother & baby home . It was a rather grand and beautiful Victorian mansion , with outer stables and other smaller but exquisite stone houses for kitchen & grounds staff , it was set on a large , leafy property in Northampton . A woman named Lady Susan Glover  of petty gentry owned the Mother & Baby home , she was a millionairess who ran the home as a Profitable Business . Lady Susan had pregnant girls working at her other country and city residences . Each  girl either had to pay upfront for every meal and night stayed at the home or earn their keep by doing chores and working many hours per week . Lady Susan also happened to be the Chairwoman of the National Adoption Society which was obviously a conflict of interest but no doubt a good platform to network and drum up more baby business in her favour.

Anyway , so my mother was at this home for illegitimate babies . I`ve no idea if she could pay for her stay or if she needed to work but after babies were delivered at a local maternity hospital , the mother had to then also begin paying for their babies keep and all its medical tests as well . In England , all babies across the country’s Homes were separated from their mothers when the baby was 6 weeks old . At the mother & baby home where my mother stayed , a mother Still had to leave her baby at the home if she could not afford to stay on herself and if she wasn`t well enough to earn her keep

It was a bit harder to place mixed race babies in those days . As if being a Bastard wasn`t quite enough , having a Half Blood on top of this wasn`t good news . Many mixed race babies who couldn`t be placed , ended up going home with their mothers but of course the mothers parents wouldn`t accept the baby so the mixed race baby`s went straight  into Government or private Foster care.

Adopters were found for me , an adoption day was set and I was dressed .. But my mother clung to me . she could not relinquish me.

The adoption was called off . My mother became surrounded by increasing pressure . After a couple of weeks another adoption day was set in stone

My mother relinquished me.

She then suffered a complete physiological break down.

I`ve seen a letter my mother wrote to Authorities in which she apologizes to them . She describes she felt anguished and tried to go back to work at the hospital as she was told to but had to leave as she wasn`t feeling well . And she was Sorry for Delaying signing the Final Adoption Consent Forms . In the letter she says when she feels more able to she will sign the Consent  forms.

I was gone and my mother was is a terrible state , They had stripped her of me and there she was Apologizing to these Bastards.

I`ve since written to two women who knew my mother very well , they were her neighbors for many years and they said she was so timid and wouldn`t hurt a mouse . To follow are their descriptions of my mother and in here , there is an example of how some women cannot cope with being apart from their baby ;

She was timid and nervous – she struggled with one on one conversations – She developed OCD and was afraid of germs – Her hands were red & sore from repeated hand washing , ( she later wore white gloves to hide the state of her hands ) – she didn`t  have further lovers or children as she wouldn`t or couldn`t get close to anyone – her house looked `like a bomb hit it` , her Hoarding became a disorder – she`d avoid any rare visitors at her door , she wouldn`t let workmen into her house for maintenance tasks – her dining room walls were lined with rubbish bags – She only left the house to go to the shops – she walked like a model and was well groomed – she only ate yogurt and fruit and lost a lot of weight – she never got over losing my father – The women who confided in me now Know why my mother was mentally unstable – she could not manage life – she was Lost and suffered from severe reactive depression , she was mentally unwell.

My mother had lily white skin . ( I reflect on her colours and her eyes as all of my physical features are dark ) She was a blue eyed beauty who had a promising career in nursing and she was a genteel girl ,  everyone said she was lovely

And then she was Crushed

My grief feels  intolerable ..  my sense of loss feels unbearable

I feel a strong Rage , it feels Dis-empowering because I don`t know what to do with it or where to put it and I know somehow I have to reconcile this.

Coercion is Not Consent . My mothers Human Rights were Breeched  and thwarted and Dismissed .

Manipulating , Shaming and Bullying Under Privileged women into surrendering their babies to be raised by Privileged folk is Social and Tribal  Exclusion in its most Morbid form. Adopters who assert their Perceived Needs and Desires as Priority over a child`s Primal Needs are suffering from a bizarre aspect of narcissism. Their Empathy gets lost in an effort to secure themselves as Primary Stakeholders.

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Most people involved in Stripping a  mother of her child , will say the child is `Special` or `hand picked` etc etc . Easy as chucking out a persons birth certificate , printing off a newbie , throwing in a new name and viola ! So Special ?

No . It is Not.

My mother and I were together for 71 days.

I share some of my mothers mental & social difficulties though my co-morbid aspects are not as extreme . One of my adopters was thrilled to tell me that when they fetched me at 11 weeks old they put me to bed at 7pm and sat bolt upright in their beds having slept in until 11am the next day . I was still asleep . 11 week old babies do NOT sleep for 16 hours straight. They are designed by nature to wake every 2 – 3 hours to nurse . If they didn`t wake their blood sugar levels would drop , its not safe for a baby to sleep this many hours and its unheard of . With weight gain I didn`t thrive well , I walked a bit later than most , I struggled at school and there was me and my mother , living 40 miles apart , both of us not thriving.

I`ve decided Not to find my father .

If he is alive he will be 80 years old . I would like to tell him that the girl he loved had his baby .. But I fear he`d dead and if he has an eldery wife then I`m not going to waltz into her life to tell her that her husband was actually in love with another and that I am their child . And if she is dead then I won`t approach their children , I`m letting go of my Indian heritage.

And history repeats ..

I wasn`t married when I became pregnant and my child is mixed race of Indian , Italian and English and yet I got to keep her.

So this .. is my story

Lesley Halliday

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? – David S.

davidshipp
David Meeting His Mother The First Time 3/11/12

 

BIO: David was born at Crown Street Women’s Hospital in Sydney on December 1st 1966, to Margaret Rose who was just 16. He was adopted to a couple from Wollongong ten days later. He grew up with an adopted sister, two years younger than himself. He lived in the one family home until we moved into our first home together in 1987. We married in 1989 and have two boys – Josh who is 28 and Kyle 26. David trained as a boilermaker and worked hard until retiring in late 2015, unable to cope with the stress of his adoption history. David has always loved science fiction, particularly Star Wars and he has been collecting all kinds of memorabilia for as long as he can remember. He has built scale models of the Millennium Falcon, X-Wings and many other Star Wars vehicles. He enjoys riding motorbikes and has owned a variety of them including Harleys and Hondas but his firm favorite is Kawasaki. We have two dogs, birds and chickens but he has a soft spot for our cat Jonesy (yes, she’s named for Ripley’s cat from Alien). We live in Robertson, in the Southern Highlands of NSW which has a population of around 2500 and enjoys a ‘micro climate’ meaning you can drive up the mountain from nearby Wollongong and experience a change in temperature of up to 10 degrees on any given day and we are still using our wood heater just 8 weeks out from summer!

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’m writing this story for my husband, David who is an adult adoptee.

The story began in 1966 when he was stolen from his 16 year old mother by forced adoption in Sydney, Australia.

We married in 1989 and I was aware that he was troubled. He was an aggressive drunk and I could never understand the sense in his cutting. In and out of jobs throughout the years, he had issues with work colleagues and anger issues. His depression increased in his mid-30’s but discussing his adoption had always been taboo.

By his late thirties, anxiety, depression and cutting had left many scars. He had scars on his body, inside his tormented mind and in the form of my own depression and anxiety. His moods made isolating from my family easy and I’d never formed adult friendships outside of my work. Therapy and medication for both of us helped to find a more level ground.

We walked together and talked together.

He was finally able to hold down a job and we started looking for his first-mother. In 2012, we found her, my husband’s birth mother. He also found that he had three sisters and we all lived within a 15km radius of each other.

image2
David meeting his biological sisters March 2012

It was a fairy tale come true.

But….

 What a roller coaster ride it has been. Extreme highs of intense joy and happiness coupled with such deep valleys of sadness and despair. David experienced resentment and jealousy, grief and loss.

After two years the relationships all fell apart. One relationship fell apart after another followed by his mother’s secondary rejection.

The drinking returned, along with the cutting and self-destructive behaviors. Recently, after the trigger of Father’s Day, another breakdown saw him out of control and in hospital, being forcibly sedated. He is no longer able to work.

This year we have been through two DNA tests in the search for his father. Both results were negative. Following the second negative result, David attempted suicide three times in six weeks, culminating in a short stay in the acute psychiatric unit. We followed this with six months of intensive therapy which has improved David’s peace of mind.

Two months ago, David chose to log his DNA with AncestryDNA. 

For the first time in his life he has made contact with the paternal side of his biological family. Now, it’s going to be a process of working backwards through at least three families and their accompanying generations to establish where David fits in and hopefully we will be able to identify his biological father.

This in itself, although positive, has seen stress and agitation return to plague my husband’s mind. We are trying to manage these issues and have decided to return to therapy.

I tell myself that there should be no regrets that the happiness David experienced can only fade and never be taken away. Nor can anyone remove that knowledge that his true mother is out there.

But I fear the pain, the anxiety and the sadness, the separation anxiety and mood swings. I fear David’s feelings of worthlessness that could overcome him and push him towards the release of suicide again.

Christine S. David’s Wife

David S.- Adult Adoptee

Robertson, New South Wales, Australia 🇦🇺

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted?- Mary Paige Rose

marypaigeroseBIO: I am a 61 year old adoptee. I have been sober for almost 30 years. My drinking was a direct result of being an adoptee, abused and misused. Today I am living within my own skin and am grateful that we adoptees have found our voices. I was fortunate enough to be reunited with birth siblings. I never got to meet my birth parents and while I know my birth mother’s name, my birth father is still a mystery. There were many lies about my life before being adopted at age 6. Unfortunately, my birth mother took most of her secrets to her grave. My name at birth was Debra Ann Salinas although I am not Hispanic. My name was changed every time I was moved to a new foster home and the my name was changed once adopted. And later when I married. The MOST empowering act I have done for myself was change my name. My name is Mary Paige Rose.

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?

Ironically, as I sit down to write this paper, today marks my 55th anniversary of being adopted. I was 6 years old when the ink dried on the paper telling yet another lie about me. Along with two siblings, I now belong to a couple from Birmingham Alabama. I still remember that day as if it was yesterday because one part of my life ended and another part of life began. Prior to being adopted, I had lived in foster homes for nearly 3 and half years. And, all I remember about those years were memories of floor plans. I remember no faces because all I could do was look down at floors during those years of foster care. So, asking me how it feels to be adopted isn’t quite the scope of my life. I learned at a very early age of neglect, abuse and aloneness to ‘not feel’ but to accept things as they are. So, on that day in late October of 1961, I remember just being there and ‘going along’. I had no certain feelings of how it felt to be adopted. I am certain I heard words like that, and am not sure I understood them. I do remember holding my breath and only exhaling out of necessity though.

I am telling my story after years of therapizing over the trauma of a very abusive childhood. What I can honestly say is…I didn’t know that what happened to me wasn’t normal. I thought waking up in different families was normal. I thought sitting on the fringes of a family was normal. I thought having no needs was normal. I thought not talking was normal. I thought not having mine was normal. I thought never being held was normal. I thought never being told ‘I love you’ was normal. I thought adults had all the say in my life at any cost. I didn’t know that as a human being even at that age, I had rights even if they were the right to be.

I did learn that the easiest way to be was to just accept and hope for the best.

I became a magical thinker at an early age and it served me well for many years. Once I was adopted, I became the oldest of 3 siblings that were adopted together. The expectations of being the oldest was true for this family. I had to set an example for my siblings, to do right and to make good grades. And, I did all those things while trying to not to get my adopted mother upset.

In my adoptive home the rules were 1) Adults are always right, and never to be disrespected. 2) Do what was told because I said so 3) Don’t upset mom or else 4) God sees everything so don’t make Him mad 5) You are special…we adopted you . Those were just a few. There were unspoken rules too. Especially around physical and sexual abuse. My adoptive mother was a very angry person and my adoptive father was a sexual abuser or what is called a pedophile today. What I thought growing up in this home was this all was just normal. I thought that I deserved this, that something was wrong with me. I don’t remember really feeling at all except when the beatings from my adoptive mother was so severe that I would bite my arms so I didn’t feel the hurt from her..it worked. I thought this was normal. I also thought that living in a home in constant fright and unease was normal. I thought learning how to wash dishes and ironing my father’s Oxford shirts at 6 years old was normal. I thought being touched by him at age 9 was normal. And, that I believed him when he told me that it was our special little secret was normal. I thought that my hollow insides were normal. I thought that the idea I was less than, not quite pretty enough, not good enough was all normal. I thought all children grew up the way I did, that this was normal and yet…I never asked another person how they thought or felt. This was normal for me. And of course, I never told anyone about my sense of normal. In looking back at my trauma of my childhood, I understand today that what being adopted felt like to me was an obligation. An obligation that somehow these two adults SAVED me and I had to endure whatever was given out to me in the name of love. And in reality, being adopted by them only continued what turned out to be years of physical, sexual, emotional and mental abuse. I thought this was normal.

From the age of 6 years to age 18 I lived ‘under the roof’ of their home. I did survive it all, with little or no physical signs of it left on my body. Unfortunately, I was left with invisible scars, which later was identified as PTSD.. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I just thought it was normal. What I learned in my adoptive home, I carried out into the world. I learn I had no needs, that someone else had control over me, that I was pitiful, not good enough, less than, didn’t belong and eventually began to self medicate with alcohol, sex, work and abusive relationships. Fortunately, because I was a workaholic and had a career path that was in the treatment field of alcoholism, I was able to ‘get off the ‘merry go round of denial’. And eventually discovered that what I thought was normal was abuse. And to start to FEEL what it was like to be adopted.

Feeling those feelings was rather difficult for me and quite arduous.

When my frozen feelings from my childhood began to ooze out, it was almost like a double edge sword. I had to learn that I had the right and the necessity to feel these feelings. Many of my friends either couldn’t comprehend this or had little patience with me and would abandon me in the process. But, this time, I fought for my right to be. So, unlike when I was a child. I have had to be my own advocate in many areas of my life. I’ve had to educate therapists as to how it feels to be adopted, since most of them just want to ‘let it go, because it is in the past’. No, being adopted at age 6 will never be in the past. It is the cornerstone of who I am today. How it feels to be adopted is still a haunting experience to me sometimes. And it is a process of years of unwinding and re-applying healthy patterns for my own personal sense of worth.

Today, I do have a few ideas of what normal is. And, that I strive to give me that sense of normalcy. I still have doubts about it though. Being older now in my life walk helps. And it is easier to be mature about things too. Even though I know I still get tripped up from time to time. Especially when doubt rears its ugly head about belonging, whether it be just fitting into a group situation or social activities. I am still troubled with what is acceptable to how I feel about situations especially the f word. Family. I walked away from my adoptive abusive family. I broke the silence about the years of abuse and claimed my sense of sanity and reality. Unfortunately, they remained in denial and that was unacceptable to me.

I am in a relationship today that is not normal based on my childhood. Today, I am in a relationship with man and we have never yelled at each. We have never said the F word to each other. I have not been hit, smacked or kicked. I am not an object of sexualization nor abuse. There isn’t deceit or dishonesty defining our relationship. And yet, I have feelings of disconnect and uncertainty from time to time. Those feelings don’t linger and yes, they are troublesome to me and I am sure to him from time to time. I have come to realize that these feelings are normal for me.

Especially from where I came from on being adopted on October 27, 1961

Mary Paige Rose

Adult Adoptee

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

wedding-bike
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? – No Name, Baby To Be Adopted.

juliesterner

BIO: I am a thirty-something adult adoptee, the product of a closed, private, domestic infant adoption. I have four “real” parents, each with distinctly different roles and influences on my life. I’ve been happily reunited for almost a decade and a half. My husband has patiently stood by me through search, reunion, and the birth of two amazing children. My hobbies include addictions to caffeine and genealogy, and supporting adoptee access to original birth records.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

Fall is a time when the past often comes to my mind. My maternal grandmother and grandfather’s birthdays are just days apart, with the anniversary of my mother’s death sandwiched in between. A few more weeks and the calendar will bring the anniversaries of the deaths of my paternal grandparents, followed soon after by my birthday.

I was given up for adoption at birth. I never expected, at the beginning, that my search would end at a grave – my natural mom was young when she had me, and I was young when I searched. The chance that I’d find a grave should have been almost nil. Two years into searching, I’d been informed that she had died long ago, but with no proof provided I’d held out hope for another four years that the claim was incorrect or a lie. Unfortunately this particular piece of information turned out to be true.

It was heartbreaking and difficult – and still is, fifteen years down the road – to miss out not only on knowing my natural mom as I grew up, but to then find that I would never know her in this lifetime. It’s a loss built upon a loss, and one which many non-adoptees don’t understand, since I’m mourning the loss of someone I have no memory of.

I’m mourning both a person and a possibility.

But grieving the loss of my natural mother almost seems normal compared to the mourning of extended family relationships that seems to have developed over the years. When I first reunited, my natural parents were nearly my sole focus. It was impossible to tear my attention away from the tragedy of my mom’s death or the welcoming relationship with my dad. As time has passed, other losses have begun to rear their heads and although they may not be as cutting, they are losses nonetheless and demand some measure of processing and grief.

My mom’s father died when she was just a girl, so even if I had been kept I would never have known him. With him, I grieve the experience of growing up hearing memories and stories, and of knowing firsthand how his loss affected my mom.

My dad’s father passed away when I was in my teens, right around the time my grandfather that I grew up with died, and ironically, of the same cause. This loss is poignant for me in a different way, because I could have known him. In a different situation, I could have had the opportunity to meet and talk with him, but I never will. I cherish the childhood memories I have of the loving grandfather I grew up with, and grieve the opportunity to have had memories with this other grandfather.

I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to meet both of my natural grandmothers before they passed away. They were both strong, loving and welcoming women. With them, I grieve their passing, and I regret that my insecure and sometimes clumsy handling of reunion resulted in more distance from them than I would have liked. Oftentimes I was reluctant to make a phone call or send a note because – through NO fault of theirs – I felt unsure of my place. No matter how welcomed I was, and honest to God I could not in my wildest dreams have asked for a more welcoming birth family, there was always that fear in the background that my existence was something to be ashamed of and that I shouldn’t be bothering people. When I was in the very beginning stages of reunion, I’d been told by someone important to me that “people make many mistakes and do not want to be confronted with them” and that was a hard comment to let go of. It still is.

The deaths of my grandmothers had one positive impact, and that was to make me realize that I’d regret not reaching out more while I still had the chance. And in recent years I have. I’m still not bold or 100% comfortable, but I have met many extended family members and developed some treasured relationships. Even there, though, is some loss. I’m never quite sure if I should just use a first name to address them, or if it’s okay to say “Aunt/Uncle So-and-so”. I don’t know what they expect, and fifteen years into reunion it seems awkward to ask. Every time a doubt creeps into my mind about whether it’s okay to refer to someone as a sibling or a cousin, or to say “dad” instead of his name, I’m reminded that in an alternate reality I wouldn’t have had to think twice about it.

There’s other losses to grieve too. Becoming more open about my adoption and related thoughts brings the possibility of alienating friends and family who have adopted or considered adopting, and that scares and saddens me. And I deeply grieve the fullness of adoptive relationships stifled by fears and insecurities, relationships I value and truly wish could be open and honest, because I love these people and I know they love me. And the most frustrating part is that I so often think about the fact that it didn’t have to be this way. None of it had to be this way. If closed adoption, fear, and “the way things are done” hadn’t stood in the way, there were so many other paths that we could have all travelled down. And it’s not that it makes me an unhappy person – I have a blessed life and I’m optimistic and purposeful about my future. But like dealing with a chronic disease, those losses will always be with me and are something I need to take into account as I live my life. Acknowledging, processing, and letting myself experience my grief isn’t wallowing or self-pity; it’s allowing myself to explore emotions that were unwelcome before, it’s honoring and remembering people important to me, it’s sharing things instead of bottling them up because I’ve learned that I deserve to be the fullest, healthiest, most complete version of me that I want to be. My grief over my losses does not “compete with” or degrade my other valued relationships, and if someone chooses to believe that it does, their choice is outside my control.

So for me, the answer to “how does it feel to be adopted” is that sometimes it feels like loss. It feels like grieving over, and over, and over again, at different events and milestones and realizations, in different ways as the years go by. And that is okay.

“Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.

So I’m going to repeat a few words I’ve uttered countless times; words so powerful and honest they tear at the hubris of every jackass who participates in the debasing of the grieving:

Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”

Tim Lawrence, Everything Doesn’t Happen For A Reason, 20 Oct 2015

* * *

“No Name; Baby To Be Adopted”

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Patricia R.

 

patriciaBIO: My name is Patricia. I was born and spent a good part of my life in Montreal until I moved out west to Vancouver in 1991. I studied Commerce at Concordia and McGill. My daughter lives very close to me and I see a lot of my two grandsons, age 9 and 4. I’ve worked as an executive assistant in the mining industry, and currently work as the internal bookkeeper for an accounting firm.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

My renewed interest in documenting my adoption and everything around it that has happened to me started in summer 2015. To set the stage for THAT I will have to back way up to Montreal, Quebec, October 1953, when and where I came into being.  Much later in life I found out that from the orphanage I was placed in a temporary French Catholic foster home until I was nine months old. (explaining my facility with French in school) and from there to my permanent home. My adoptive Dad was from England and had been a merchant marine captain during the war. My adoptive Mother was a schoolteacher from a strict, English Victorian sort of family in west end Montreal. She had been ill as a child and carried those after-effects into adulthood. She had had a stillborn child and that is why they decided to adopt.

I was made aware I was adopted since sometime before grade school. Mum and Dad sat me down on the couch one day and explained it as best they could. As recommended by social workers at the time they told me I was special. They told me I was wanted..

but most of all I was terrifically special.

Just around the time I started Grade One, I remember Mother being upset and crying a lot. Then she was all smiles and started knitting furiously, all blue, blue ribbons, blue buttons. Then the spare room was painted blue and a crib was put in it, curtains on the window with blue bears and cute pictures on the wall.

Then my brother arrived one day all giggly and roly-poly and they placed him in the crib and introduced me to my new brother. He drifted off to sleep and we crept out and shut the door. I now had a sibling.

I loved him so much I thought my heart would burst. No one was allowed to put a finger on him except my parents – I became fiercely protective of him.  He was so cute and all smiles.

In class at the beginning of Grade 2 (or 3, not sure) we were given forms and at the top we were supposed to write our names, phone numbers and birth dates. I put up my hand – I was having trouble with that third piece of information: I wasn’t born, I was adopted – -what should I write down? I was just trying to be precise. I recall tittering and giggling from the kids behind me and my face turning beet red.

My concentration was never good in school. I daydreamed, looked out the window, anywhere but the board. Often I’d get in trouble and land up at the very back where the coats were hung.  Nonetheless I managed to come first in Grade 3 but after that it was a downhill slide. (It was only in Grade 7 that it was discovered how bad my vision was and that I’d probably been that way since birth. It explained why in all my childhood pictures I was squinting.)

I felt I had this imaginary sign painted on my back –

I AM DIFFERENT.

To deal with this I became the class clown in Grade 4. In Grade 5 my teacher told me first day that she had heard of how funny I had been in Grade 4 and she was going to see to it that the “funny” was wrung right out of me.  She made me the daily object of ridicule and it was more the rule than the exception that I had a detention after every school day pretty much, for quite some time, to the point I’d forgotten what for. I looked to my parents for help – my mother’s remark was “well there must be a reason”. It was an era where trust in professionals (doctors, teachers, social workers) was inviolate, sacred. Somehow I made it through anyway, through Grade 5, 6 and 7 and on to high school.

By Grade 9 I was sullen, rebellious, and angry to the teeth and gums and by Grade 10 I had all but dropped out.  At home I fought with my mother. At school and out of it I had few friends and was the object of bullying by this group of horrid boys.

When I was 17 my Dad was transferred overseas to Antwerp, Belgium. I got in trouble in my international school and was kicked out. I was sent to boarding school where they could be sure I would be kept out of trouble. Um…hello – Amsterdam was a bus ride away? and this was 1970.  There was this tall kid in school called Carlos. Every Saturday we’d give him a shopping list and he’d bus it to Amsterdam and back.

I tried LSD but I had such horrific experiences with it – such as thinking that I was crawling up inside my own brain never to be found again – that I avoided it for the most part. But I did try other drugs. They didn’t help my state of mind which was at best chaotic, and at worse feeling I was on the brink of madness. I felt like a marked person, an outcast, a freak. I wasn’t doing well academically or socially at boarding school but it was much better than being home. The headmaster set me up with a psychiatrist in Utrecht. On holidays I HAD to go home, and on most days I would stay in my room and read and self-medicate.  Venturing downstairs while my mother was there was to invite criticism and some sort of unwinnable argument, so I stayed in my room.

OK let me stop here for a moment. I now understand that very possibly I had made it so difficult for my mother to be a mother to me – such was my trust level, extremely low – that she could not feel fulfilled as a mother with me or the slightest bit successful. I even remember being sick and she’d try to mother me but I waved her off not wanting the attention.  With my adult understanding I have come to appreciate how great was her difficulty with me, how little was her understanding as to why, and what a crisis it must have been to her for, my not trusting her to be a mother to me. But the weird thing is that up to Grade 7 there was none of this fighting. It had started with my puberty, had come out of left field. It was not gradual – it sort of came up overnight, that is, it did to my mind and as well as my memory serves me.

On the other hand, my brother had the most compliant, good-humoured temperament I’d ever seen in a kid and the bond between him and Mother became very strong. With him she could feel fulfilled as a mother and successful.

Needless to say, gaps widened, I became “the problem” and I was lost, floating and miserable. I was told I was to blame for all the unhappiness in the household and the low self-esteem in me bought that hook, line and sinker. Gone was the person I had been before puberty. I thought I was fat, ugly, stupid. I felt there was something fundamentally flawed about me. I became bulimic and later on anorexic. I binge ate and abused laxatives. I made scratches up and down my arm. I used alcohol as “liquid courage”; my behaviour was atrocious and I was not a very pleasant person to be around with a chip on my shoulder the size of Texas.  I was one step away from reform school too – my parents often threatened me with it. Well at least I had not resorted to a life of crime – I did a little petty stealing but after getting caught I was scared enough to stop.

I had always been musical and did get much solace in playing my guitar, and singing. I’d sit upstairs in my room all afternoon playing and singing, and writing dark poems. I loved Simon and Garfunkel and would sing I Am A Rock over and over:

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark
December,
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me,
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

This song quickly became my personal anthem. And when I got to that last stanza I would always shout it out: I HAVE MY BOOKS AND MY POETRY TO PROTECT ME!! Hoping my mother would hear that from down in the kitchen.

Well, one day and I think it was at Easter when I had to be home, there I was up in my room (safe within my “womb”) and I had smoked a reefer and was reading Portnoy’s Complaint. I had fallen into a deep stoned sleep on my bed with the book on my face. Suddenly my mother burst through the door yelling at me to get up! I was lazy, good for nothing!. She grabbed my book, screaming that it was filth and trash and smut, and proceeded to rip it up. In a dream state I stood up and yanked it out of her hands, then to my horror I watched as my own fists – they couldn’t be anyone else’s –  rained down and made contact with her face. It was all slow motion and a blur and I didn’t feel my fists making contact and then my brother was in there helping her off the floor and out of my room. She was wailing, he was sobbing and I was contemplating a jump over the railing to my (preferably quick) death below in the vestibule.

I didn’t leave my room the rest of that day and the next day my Dad came back from wherever he had been, on a business trip or something. I didn’t leave my room that day either except to use the bathroom.

The following day I was called to the breakfast table to view the damage to my mother’s face and drown in the profound unbearable shame of what I had done.  I couldn’t explain myself, and anyway I was starting to believe I was evil. Eventually, the shame and the horror got buried over time and no one in the family spoke about it again.

We moved back to Montreal the following year and four years later to Vancouver. After a year I found an excuse to go back to Montreal. I had applied to university and had gotten accepted. Thus ensued my lonely life in Montreal. I started seeing a psychiatrist. I was married for a time and had a daughter and then the marriage broke up and I was a single working parent in Montreal. I had no car, the winters were cold and long. On weekends after my daughter went to sleep I drank lots of wine.

After 17 years I decided to pull up “roots” and move to Vancouver so my parents could be closer to my daughter and they could help me.

However within six weeks my mother’s health went from iffy to downhill. (She had always had bad health: kidney disease, breast cancer and the list goes on.) She was diagnosed with liver cancer and in another six weeks she was… gone! Six months after that my Dad died of a massive stroke.

My brother and I split up the estate and he bought my share of the house from me (under much protest and ugliness I’d never seen in him before) and his girlfriend moved in with him with her two kids. I had the distinct impression he thought himself more entitled to the estate than I was and he made it difficult and hurtful at every turn. I had never seen this side of him before. But low self-esteem not withstanding, I held my ground. Eventually he married his girlfriend and they sold the house and moved to the States.  He made a whopping amount of money in programming and became very successful as a high paid computer systems engineer in California.

I kept on in Vancouver, never really carving a career for myself, always working well under my true potential. I was thankfully better off financially thanks to my Dad’s remarkable ability to save money. It helped me to buy a townhouse, but I wasn’t by any means independently wealthy and still had to work, and that was OK. Work I could do.

After a run of successive disastrous relationships with psychologically abusive men, I found a good psychologist whom I saw after that for years.

I went down to California the Christmas before 9-11 to visit my brother and sister-in-law. I was anxious the whole time but it was a good visit and my brother seemed happy to see me. After that he phoned occasionally and most often when something was going wrong and he needed to talk it out. I was glad to be given that role – after all, I loved him and cared about him.  I wanted to be that big sister again.

Around that time I put in another of many campaigns to find my birthmother and that  time around I found her, in a small fishing community on Vancouver Island.  But she was damaged goods too – the elder of five children taking the brunt of her father’s beatings and protecting the younger ones…and a perfect victim in a victim’s perfect holding pattern. Eventually we had a bad argument and she told me to pack up, leave and not come back. There was something of a detente eventually but I was beginning to see that it wasn’t working and stopped contact. What I did take away from all of that was my father’s name and where he came from.  I’ve been looking on and off ever since.

I had a complete nervous breakdown in 2009-2010.  The silver lining in that is that I started “doing the work”, learning better coping styles, becoming aware of how my thoughts drove my emotions (not the other way around), learning what caused my depression.  Without falling completely apart, I would have never seen the need to make these sorts of changes and learn this much about myself.

My brother and his wife came up from time to time and about three summers ago their visit seemed so successful and positive that I was starting to think (and dare to hope) that our relationship was really on the up and up, so much so that two summers ago I drove all the way down to California to see them.

I won’t get into details. One step in the front door and the distinctive grinding sound I heard was that of old tapes. The atmosphere was palpable. The visit got ugly fast. They finally told me that they had plans and it was “awkward” to have me there for those events so I drove home, tail between my legs so to speak, humiliated.

This summer my daughter wrote to them basically saying “c’mon what gives? Let’s have harmony! You’ve hurt my Mom – she’s a good person you know” and they wrote back with half-truths and accusations, de-friended her and me on Facebook. My brother told my daughter about what I’d done to my mother when I was 17 and that he could never forgive me for that or my general bad treatment of our parents.  I wrote an explanatory, apologetic email (about that incident) to my brother. He wrote back and said fine, but he still thought I was an angry sullen person.  And then our communications just stopped.

I looked up my old therapist. He had retired so I found a new counselor and better yet in my own community. After telling him this long story, he told me he was adopted too! and saw a lot of his story in mine. We shared similar experiences. He got me reading Nancy Newton Verrier’s book “Coming Home to Self”. It’s been a difficult read. Oh, not just the damage done to me but the damage my narcissistic self had done to others. Then about halfway through the books she talks about taking responsibility and ownership of it all. The adopted child grows up!  The adopted child MUST grow up. I want to continue to discover more and more of myself – all the good stuff – and own it all good, bad or indifferent. I want to accept the bad stuff and put it to rest. Good Lord – I’m sixty-three now – I want peace and resolution.

As for the things I can’t change, I must accept them and move on. I am very close with my daughter and I have two wonderful grandsons with whom I am very connected and involved. For that I am so very grateful.  It truly is the silver lining in my tempestuous life.

The work continues.

I wish all the very best for adoptees around the world.

Love, Patricia

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – S.M. Ezeff

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Volunteers of America Nursery 1981

BIO: S.M. Ezeff was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling. While searching for her birth family, S. M. Ezeff discovered there was a shortage of African American adoptees speaking out and came to realize agency based adoption is still taboo within the African American community. Constantly being asked if her adoptive parents were black, she also learned that being adopted into another black family was somewhat of a rarity. With this in mind, she began openly to share her adoption story and discuss some of the unique challenges that come from being an adoptee of color. After locating her birth mother in 2011, she discovered there were more secrets to unravel. Her birth mother refused to tell her the name of her birth father or introduce her to her own brother. In 2015, DNA research made it possible for her to locate her birth father’s family. Today she continues to search for her older half-brother and does not plan to give up any time soon. She strongly believes the truth will always reveal itself in the end. In her spare time, S. M. Ezeff enjoys traveling, photography, baking, and for the first time ever, genealogy research.

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

Passage taken from: Adopted Out: A Memoir of Closed Adoption and Blackness by S.M. Ezeff.

This indicates the intense struggle that young adoptees deal with even as young children.

I longed for those quiet nights in my room when I could fantasize about who my mother was. I haven’t met an adoptee yet who didn’t fantasize. That’s what you do when you have no reality. You make it up. For years, I slept with a big, pink stuffed bunny. He had long floppy ears and a black nose with chipped paint encircling his tiny nostrils. On the bottom of his left leg was a small patch of crusted, matted dark fur, where I had spilled a can of soda. And around his neck was a floral pink bow tie with frayed, ruffled edges. It was he who knew all my secrets. When I cried, he cried too. When I laughed, he laughed with me. Clinching his plush body around my small arms, I would fall asleep.  I dreamt about my other mother.  I longed for the day I would be able to see her face.  Then there were dark moments when I prayed for her death—why else would she leave a precious little baby? Aren’t all babies precious?

Sometimes in the middle of the night I would pull out my non-identifying information and read it. It was my own private bedtime story. That was all I had of her.  She must be real. Why would someone make this up?  No one could possibly be that cruel. My young mind was conflicted, but I knew she had to be real. My paper proved it.  Even though I couldn’t see God, I knew He existed. Maybe if I closed my eyes and wished really hard, she too would hear my prayers. So that’s what I did. Every night I wished and prayed for her to find me. I asked God to direct my prayers and send me clues so that I would know she too was thinking of me.  

In 1997 Celine Dion released the ionic ballad, “My Heart Will Go On.” That was the year of my 16th birthday. Sweet Sixteen is supposed to be a memorable occasion for any girl.  Some might say it’s the year you become a woman. As I sat on my bed that day, I wondered if my birth mother was thinking of such a special day in my life. I went through the same anguish every year, but that year it was somehow more painful. My parents took me to see The Titanic and then out for dinner to commemorate the special occasion. I was not in the mood to celebrate. I never expressed my pain to them. Like most adoptees, I hid my feeling. I bottled my emotions. I knew that if I allowed myself to be anything other than grateful I was been ridiculed and scolded. I would be forever deemed as the “ungrateful” and “angry” adoptee. I thought it was better to hide my feelings.

Eventually, I knew I had to find out the truth of my origins and I was determined to once and for all find out if I had been loved by the woman who gave me up.

As an adult, I found my birth mother. I was terribly disappointed. I found a woman who refused to admit she had any feelings for me at all. She treated me like I was just a nuisance. “I just wanted to leave you and go on with the rest of my life.” I will never forget those words. They told me it’s only a small percentage of adoptees who get rejected by their birth mothers. I could not believe this was happening to me.  Talk about bad luck.

Within the next few years of being in contact with my birth family, I have been lied to repeatedly and rejected by the people I thought were supposed to love me the most. My birth mother refused to tell me who my birth father was, stating it is none of my business. I have an older brother that she refused to tell me about as well. Other family members are afraid to give me information, because they do not want to upset my birth mother. They remain loyal to her not some “stranger” they just met. I can’t even get a photo of my own big brother. A freaking photo? Imagine that?  My birth mother gave him up when he was a toddler. His birth name is Eric Ezeff. I suspect he was raised closely within my own birth family. Growing up as an only child, I had hoped to get an opportunity to know any siblings I had. I don’t know if my brother is a good man or a convicted felon, but I deserve to know the truth. All adoptees do. I will not stop looking for him. If there is anything I learned throughout my journey, it is that the truth will slowly reveal itself in time. The worse thing our birth families can do is lie to us. We’ve already been lied to our entire lives. Please respect us enough to be honest.

Eventually it became clear that I was no longer a part of my own family. Too much time had been lost and too much pain had been caused. That leaves me here today with 2 different families, and I do not feel like I belong in either one of them.

I struggle trying to find a place where I can belong.

Today I still suffer from the trauma surrounding my initial adoption. Then I faced another trauma when my birth mother rejected me for a second time. Most days I am fine, but certain times of the year like birthdays can be triggering, and I feel like the pain cripples me. Most people do not understand adoption trauma, and the sad part is they don’t want to. They would rather hear the comforting lies than the hard reality. The reality is adoption is painful. Adoption is loss. Adoption is a traumatic experience for all parties involved. Even adoptive parents must come to terms with the reality of their own infertility struggles. My adoptive parents were not given the proper education, training, and particularly the counseling that should have equipped them to raise an adopted child.

One of the worst problems I see with adoption is that the mental health community is not adequately capable of helping those of us in the adoption triad. As someone in the mental health profession, I work with psychiatrists, social workers, and other professionals who cannot fathom the word “adoption” or “trauma” in the same sentence. Throughout the time I spent in graduate school, I never encountered another student or professor who understood adoption loss.

It made me sad, but most of all it made me angry.

It made me angry because another generation of uninformed therapist would go out into the world and dismiss another adoptee’s pain. They’d diagnose us with some form of bipolar disorder or tell us to “get over it.” If you choose to seek out professional counseling, I strongly encourage all adoptees to find a therapist who is trained in adoption related trauma. Do not be afraid to ask them.

The good news today is technology is making it possible for adoptees to reconnect with family members every day. A DNA test helped me locate my birth father’s family, who I learned is from Mississippi. The resemblance I have to my family of origin never ceases to amaze me. My birth mother would have a heart attack if she knew I had this much information. Regardless, I will not stop searching for my truth, and I will not be silenced. After all I went through, I know I can’t quit now. If I give up now, it will mean all the pain I went through will have accounted for nothing. No child should have to go through life feeling unwanted or afraid to express their own feelings. I was one of them.

I didn’t know they had other adoptees like me. Please don’t be afraid of the bad stories. I urge you to learn from them. A really special lady once told me, “It’s the truth that sets us and others free.” If my story can help even just 1 adoptee feel validated, 1 more adoptive parent acknowledge the trauma, or 1 less birth mother inflict a 2nd rejection, I will know this was all worth it.

Thanks for reading

S.M. Ezeff

Adult Adoptee

Please write to write S.M. Ezeff at adoptedoutmemoir@gmail.com to order her memoir.

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Rebecca Rud

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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:

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Skype – gretchen.weible

Facebook – Gretchen Weible

WordPress blog – Rebecca Rud 1971

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Carla A.

 

052BIO: I’m a mental health therapist and writer.  I love the outdoors and traveling and have found both to be great stress relievers!  Adoptee rights advocacy is just one passion of mine.

 

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?

Some months ago, as I began to really work in-depth at healing from adoption, I wrote these words in my journal about how I really felt as an adult adoptee.

“I feel like a living abortion.  The walking  dead.  Unlike an abortion, I was killed outside the womb and an ‘I’ was created to replace ‘me’.  The infant ‘I’ cried all night long, screaming with night terrors in her sleep so loudly, her adopted parents were afraid the neighbors would think they were abusing her. There is a gnawing ache in my entire gut, down to the very core, that never completely goes away.  No means of comfort – people, food, drugs, alcohol, sex, money, religion – has healed it.  I call it the wound that keeps on bleeding.  If it had a voice, it would be screaming ‘I want my mommy.  I’m lost, help me, save me.  Please hold me.  Don’t leave me.’  While the wound has no voice, it causes pain to other parts of my body in the form of physical ailments, and to my mind, where it has infected my thoughts.  It has created thoughts of ‘I want to die. I wish I was dead. I am dead.  I’m worthless, ugly, unlovable, unloved.  It’s hopeless.  I’m not wanted.’  This is what adoption feels like to me.”

I was adopted in 1967, placed in my adopted parents’ home at three days’ old.  My adopted parents often told the story I wrote above to whomever would listen.  How I was such a happy, “good” baby during the day, but would have horrible nightmares upon falling asleep.  Those neighbors my adopted parents were concerned might think I was being abused?  If they did think this, they would have been right.  My adopted father sexually abused me for over a decade.  My first memories of this begin around the age of 2 or 3.  My adopted mother verbally and physically abused me into early adulthood, and turned a blind eye and deaf ear to what my adopted dad was doing to me.  I sometimes wonder if the State of Florida had completed a home study before I was placed in the home, the adoption and subsequent abuse might have been prevented.  However, according to non-identifying information I received from the Florida Adoption Reunion Registry (FARR), a home study was attempted but thwarted by my adoptive parents’ attorney and the physician who attended my birth.

I always knew I was adopted because my adopted parents would celebrate adoption day every March 1st with us, starting when we were toddlers.  The “us” I refer to are my two adopted sisters, who were adopted from different birth families than mine.  Thanks to my adopted uncle, for years I thought babies were sold for adoption at garage sales because he told me when I was three years old that they had bought me from one for 25 cents.  I never felt bonded to either of my adoptive parents and because of this, I suffered from an inability to feel close to others and from terrible anxiety my entire life. I was always afraid my adopted parents would leave me or “sell” me too.  When my adopted parents separated for two years, almost divorcing, I was convinced of it.  During this two year period, my adopted mom attempted to “give” me to various relatives and friends and would periodically put me in the car and drive me to a local home for girls’, threatening “I’ll leave you here if you’re not good.”  After a few times of this, I became defiant, telling her to just do it.  She stopped doing this once she realized she couldn’t use the threat of abandonment to manipulate me.

I’ve been searching for my birth family for over 30 years, particularly for my birth mother. Really, I think I began searching as a young child, when I would stare at female strangers walking by and wonder if one of them was my mother.  My search has been frustrating and maddening, in large part because the State of Florida sealed my adoption records, which includes my birth certificate with my birth mother’s name – my “real” surname – once my adoption was finalized in 1968.  Adding to my frustration – and anger – were the several differing stories my adopted parents told me about my birth family, which only made me confused.  My adopted mother always told me when I would ask questions about my birth that she would give me my adoption papers when I turned 18.  When I asked for the papers at 18, she first told me she never had them and I was imagining that she had told me she would give them to me, then she told me she had burned them.  It’s impossible to search for someone without a surname, and I never got that from my adopted parents before they died.  Currently, there is no communication between myself and other members of my adopted family, for numerous reasons.  One incident which really helped me start breaking away from them occurred when an adopted family member told me I wasn’t “blood related anyway”.

Ancestry.com’s DNA testing has been a tremendous help in starting me on the road to healing and answering some questions about my genetic background.  Through them, I have been able to connect with a 2nd and 3rd  cousin, and have been linked to numerous distant cousins.  I finally know my nationality, which was an exciting thing for me.  At one point, a third cousin was convinced her cousin was my birth mother, but when she took it upon herself to contact her cousin and tell her about me, her cousin denied being my birth mother.  I attempted to contact her myself on one occasion, but she never responded.

I appreciate the findings I received from Ancestry DNA because I finally have evidence I’m “real” and am blood related to SOMEBODY.

So, as you can see, my journey is still ongoing.  While I’ve made great strides in my healing from my adoption experience since first writing the paragraphs at the beginning of this story, I still have a long way to go.  For me, adoption has been extremely disempowering in many different ways.  The State of Florida still has my “real” birth certificate, and adoption papers, “sealed” until they decide if and when I’m allowed to have access to these documents.  Many times, I’ve felt a sense of enslavement to the State of Florida, who upon my adoption provided me a falsified birth certificate listing my adopted parents as my natural parents.  I don’t feel as if the state sees me as a human being, but just an “adoptee”, who is not entitled to their real identity nor their medical or genetic history.

Finding communities of other adoptees has also helped me immensely.  I now know I am not alone, that what I feel as an adoptee is also shared by other adoptees, and even for those who did not have abusive adopted parents, the sense of loss and betrayal is still there.  Hearing their voices and reading their stories – while triggering at times – also gives me a sense of connectedness to the world.  Finally, my belief in a Higher Power who loves me has helped.  This belief has been difficult to cultivate, because every authority figure in my life either abused or betrayed me. However, my spiritual life and beliefs are what sustain me and give me hope that one day, I will feel whole.

Adult Adoptee

Carla A. 

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Lyndsey Smith


img_20160805_123159102Brief Bio:
I am a 35-year-old, wife, mother, and friend.  I enjoy life, and being outside.  My hobbies include reading, writing, and enjoying family time.

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?

As a child, I didn’t fully understand the meaning of the word adoption.   I thought it meant that I was special, because I was different from my siblings.  Even though we lived the same childhood: poverty, single parent, and abuse.  I am sure my childhood shyness was a result from the chaotic home life.  At one point, my sibling became my attacker – sexual abuser – the one who made my life hell.  When I told, he was protected, and I was told we keep family safe.  What a crazy idea, we keep family safe, yet I was not safe, or being protected.  I felt that it was because I was adopted that this happened.  That maybe if I was blood, I would not have been the victim.  This trauma in youth added to the feeling of alienation, not being enough, and basically sending my self-worth down a dark tunnel.  I struggled with cutting, suicidal thoughts, and depression through my teen age years, and most of my adult life.

I had a closed adoption, but knew my adopted family, since they kept it in the family. (I did grow up miles away, but did visit).   I never felt that I was enough – good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or even happy enough.  This created a bigger strain on my relationship with my adopted mom.   Eventually, I realized that keeping contact with her would create more pain, and negativity.

After having a child of my own, the idea of adoption was worse.  I could not understand ever signing papers away.  Holding that innocent precious child in my arms, created such a fear of the idea of walking away.  I just cannot understand how someone can give their child away. At first I believed that I was given away out of love, but the older I got, the more I realized that wasn’t the case.  I will never know why she gave me away; the truth is I will only hear excuses.  At this time, I have no contact with my bio family because I was expected to be someone I was not, and then attacked for assumptions of who I was. These relationships started to create physical pain, and more emotional turmoil.

The most difficult situation is the realization that I have never had a mom.  Then the mourning period of losing someone you thought you had.  Someone that I could call to talk to about anything, someone who loved me unconditionally.  Someone would teach me that I was enough.  That I did not deserve verbal assaults, or negative, angry words.  I cannot hate the woman who raised me, or the one that birthed me.  I am thankful for them both, but I do know my life is better without communication with them.  My mother is truly nature, it is the place I can feel at peace, and truly understands God’s beautiful world. Luckily, when I was young I did have a dad enter my life who neither adopted me, or was related by blood.

My adoption is part of my identity.

I was not given my father’s name, and recently have found out that it is impossible for him to be my dad based on my blood type.  So, I am at peace knowing that I will only know half of my heritage, half of my truth, and half of my reality.

As an adult, I am happy with who I have become, who I continue to be, and I am trying to understand my own worth.  I am afraid that there will always be pain, that I will always fear rejection, and that I will always wonder if I am enough.

I am thankful for having a Heavenly Father.  My family who loves me, and the realization that family is not made of blood, or made by family law.  It is made by people who share similar pains, who go through triumphs and tribulations, and create a strong bond.

I guess I will never really know how I feel about being adopted, because it is just a reality that I face.  One day I may be at peace, and then another I may cry because I am missing something. My identity will always be splintered into two parts – one that leaves me guessing and the other that is okay with the knowledge that I am incomplete.

Adult Adoptee

Lyndsey Smith

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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

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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