How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Jennifer Shrake

jenniferstrake

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

MY STORY:

BY Jennifer Shrake

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

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

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

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

So how did I turn out? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now how do I make contact?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer Shrake

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Cryptic Omega

october-2016BIO: Cryptic Omega is an Adoptee Rights advocate, creator of the Adoptee Experience Survey, and creative writer currently living in Louisiana. She hosts an  Adoptee Centric YouTube channel and shares opinions and essays through her Writing.com Portfolio. Cryptic has served as a police officer working with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, is a college graduate, and has experience working in higher education.

 

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

Had I to describe my life as an adoptee in one word, it would be “progressive.” My perspective, opinions, and relationships have changed as I have moved through time gaining knowledge from experience, education, and the fellowship of other Adoptees. My emotional responses have run tandem to my experiences, setting me on paths of denial, anger, desperation, and overwhelming joy while experiencing society’s general ignorance and ambivalence to the denial of Adoptee Rights, a sense of belonging with friends and family or lack thereof, growing through research and self-education, and empowerment through the Adoptee community.

As I have progressed through my life I have written factual essays and opinion pieces on various topics related to Adoptees and adoption. Occasionally my opinion will evolve, but I do not go back to edit or rewrite anything I’ve completed in the past. Often I let the work stand freely in full view of the public as a representation of my mindset at the time and as a testament to my life journey as an Adoptee.

An example of this evolution would be whether or not I support adoption.

For many years I was staunchly against adoption. To say I support adoption now would be misleading because the issue cannot be boiled down to a simple yes or no, but a greater understanding of the intricacies involved and of the multitude of Adoptee perspectives has lead me to believe a reformation of the modern adoption industry and common adoption-related practices, reforms ensuring the use of adoption as a last resort and only when in the best interest of the adoptee, could inspire my support of contemporary adoption.

To be clear, I do not support the act of adoption as it stands now. A service provided through capitalist industry does not have the best interest of children in mind. Businesses are focused on the exchange of money. No money, no business. No product, no money. The adoption industry’s product, to put it crudely yet accurately, is children. We have allowed the legalization of human trafficking right under our collective noses. Whatever joy or sorrow happens in a human life after the point of sale is irrelevant. The sale still occurred and neither life experience, education, nor emphatic emotion can erase that.

A progression cannot occur without a starting point and, though I have one, it is hidden from me. I have often heard my fellow Adoptees express this loss through various analogies including:

It’s as if my life is a book and the first chapter has been ripped out. You have to make what you can out of the rest of the story without knowing what happened in the beginning.

The denial of my beginnings had been one of the most prominent and influential losses of my life. On the surface it could mean nothing more than the loss of a birth story, but determining a starting point may not be as easy as a tale of conception or how many hours it took to be born.

On the most basic of levels everything a person is or could be, naturally speaking, is grown upon the foundation of their genetic makeup. You cannot think without a brain, you cannot run without limbs, and you don’t compose like Mozart without some musical talent. This foundation comes, naturally speaking, from two genetic sources. Two sources begets one, four sources begets two, eight sources begets four, and so on down the dozens upon dozens of generations of our lineage that came before us. You are the culmination of every human in your lineage that came before you. It is more than unnatural to sever the tie to a person’s lineage. It is a ghastly violation of basic, inalienable human rights. To supplant one person’s lineage with that of another’s should be considered a criminal act yet as a society not only do we condone this act, but offer legal protection to those who choose to commit it and often require them to support the industry by forcing them to provide financial compensation.

The fees incurred from adopting can be so expensive people use social media fundraisers to cover the costs of purchasing a child, yet one of the reasons natural mothers do not keep their children is due to financial strain. What does it say of us as a society that we would rather make money separating families than to invest in family preservation?

I was purchased through the Edna Gladney agency in Fort Worth, Texas for two thousand dollars. This isn’t the pre-civil war era, a third world country, or a nation ruled by a malevolent dictator. I’m a thirty-something white female born and raised in the United States. One might argue these costs are no different than the medical and legal fees paid by natural parents during the course of producing offspring, but traditional fees do not support family separation or the loss of a person’s medical history, personal identity, or cultural heritage. They do not support a lifetime of unanswered questions.

Between the last paragraph and this one I took a pause of several days.

I was concerned a specific narrative in my life, one of advocacy for Adoptee rights, would overwhelm the piece and stomp out the more general expression of my life, which was the intended focus. I adamantly feel the need to recognize and respect the human rights of Adoptees has been sidelined and, at times, intentionally dismissed. In my own life the ramifications caused by the denial of my basic human rights, such as finding my natural mother only after she had died, have left pronounced lifelong scars. Even a mention of the word adoption, or Adoptee, strokes powerful emotions and begs me to speak up about the fight for our rights. The act is so practiced it’s easy for me to become sidetracked when attempting other tasks. However, I believe the measure and longevity of its hold upon me speaks volumes of the nature and impact of adoption. I would consider it a failure to speak about my life without even a mention of the battle for Adoptee rights.

But it was not until I began my thirties I really discovered the adoptee community and the effort to regain our rights. While I grew up with two fellow adoptees in close proximity, my adopted brother and an adopted cousin, thinking, fantasizing, and asking questions about my biological family and life as an Adoptee were something I did alone. Adoption was, at best, something rarely discussed and, at worst, celebrated in our faces without our consent or used as fodder.

I recall in my youth being asked to write a letter to then President George Bush, Sr, imploring him to fight against abortion. I say asked, but I certainly did not feel like I could say no. Because I was too inexperienced to have an educated opinion of my own I regurgitated what I heard from the adults around me. I asked Bush to fight against abortion and passionately listed activities I never would have participated in had I been aborted. It felt like I was begging for the life of my younger self. I had yet to learn about anxiety, but that did not stop me from feeling fear as I wrote the letter. Conflation was something I would learn about later. It would also be years before I understood how wrong it is to use children as emotional triggers, to have them display support for or opposition to causes or ideas they do not yet fully understand. As an adult Adoptee I fully support a woman’s right to choose. I also now recognize adoption and abortion are two completely separate issues.

I do not recall ever discussing adoption with my cousin and my brother was borderline hostile anytime I tried to broach the topic with him. I asked him once if he ever wanted to find his birth mother and he replied he didn’t have the need because he already knew who his mother was. I wonder if he would have felt the same had he lived into his thirties.

In my teen years my mind was split on the subject of finding biological family. Part of me felt dirty, guilty for wanting to discover or even meet my biological parents. The thought alone felt like a sin. It felt as if I was being disloyal or disrespectful to my adoptive parents. As if I were cheating on them somehow. The other part of me dreamed of what it would be like to see someone else who looked like me, to know if my pimples would ever go away, and to have someone who could provide knowledge of things more intimate to my own teenage body – like what to expect from puberty. I wanted to see the reflection of myself in someone else.

I daydreamed of sitting alone in a small waiting room surrounded by empty chairs. There was always a single tall plant in one corner. A stereotypical office waiting room. I’d wait for a time, practicing myself through imaginary conversation starters. Then, the door would open and in would walk a woman who looked like me, but older. I’d imagine staring at her face, her hands, and taking the opportunity to mentally measure how tall she was compared to me. In my daydream I never made it much further than this point. I’d physically tear up. It was too overwhelming.

By the late nineties the internet had started to take off and with it came the beautiful anonymity that has allowed so many of my Adoptee brothers and sisters to reach out and find each other without fear of retribution. However, the idea did not occur to me in my adolescence and it was not until my late twenties I began to discover an online realm of Adoptees I could never imagine.

Searching was another matter. I started searching for biological family members as soon as the resources were available. My first method, as a child, was simply to people watch. I knew my brother and I were different than the rest of my adoptive parents’ families, but it wasn’t until holidays the degree of difference really caught my eye. Our skin doesn’t match. Nor does the shape of our faces, our hands, or the way we move. Hair, talents, personalities, medical conditions – all different. I’m the only member of my adoptive family whose pinky sticks up when I drink from a cup or bottle. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I wonder where that came from. And so early on I began an elementary search for anyone who seemed similar to myself.

Later, in my teens, I began to search for and post queries to free online reunion registries. There were few and Google was not the glorious option it is today. Occasionally I’d run across some tidbit of information on a page built from crude html and overgrown with advertisements because it was hosted on a site like Angelfire. I was afraid if I used a more direct approach, like contacting the agency that handled my adoption, my adoptive mother would find out somehow. It was slow going. And then the internet exploded.

Suddenly there were chat rooms, MySpace, and then Facebook. Adoptees began to find each other and groups began to form online. Words cannot express the elation I felt when I discovered and was accepted into such a group. I poured myself onto the internet. They listened. They didn’t reject me. Their stories were like mine! There has never been a time in my life where I have felt more accepted and supported than when I joined these pro-Adoptee groups. The irony is I’ve never met any of these people in real life. I hope one day that will change.

Google took off. Ancestry.com popped up and suddenly searching for lost family members wasn’t a thing controlled by the whim of an adoption agency. You couldn’t stop us. The internet became home to a multitude of Adoptees holding poster boards on which they had scrawled details of their adoptions and for whom they were searching. 23andMe, FamlyTreeDNA, GEDMatch, and a slew of other sites now offer their services to help you search for lost relatives. In doing so they have helped make sealed adoption records irrelevant. What is the use in sealing records when you can find one another using your DNA?

I submitted my saliva to 23andMe. I chose their service over the others because they provided some medical information based upon your genetics. To say I was excited is an understatement. It was hard to sleep knowing any day I might wake up to the fairy tale of finding my natural mother and/or father’s name at the top of my relative list. The thought of my daydream turning into reality left me reeling. Weeks passed. Finally the results came back. I had hundreds of distant relatives, something common to most newcomers of the genetic databases. Then a few numbers trickled into the “4th Cousins” category. Eventually, a handful moved into “2nd & 3rd Cousins”. I waited. I waited, checking the list every day for months to see the fat zero under “Close Family” turn to a one. The days turned to months, the months into years. That zero remained unchanged. It seemed I was no closer to finding my family.

I discovered I could transfer my data for free or at a reduced rate to other sites and pit my genetic data against their databases. I joined FamilyTreeDNA and GEDmatch, the latter of which is a free service. I also decided to renew my effort through less technological means and launched a campaign through every free online registry and search engine I could find. This led me to Search Angels. Search Angels are not-for-profit volunteers who help searching adoptees find their families. Thankfully, I had been warned off of other “volunteers” who charge for their services.

There is no end to the line of people waiting to try and make money off of Adoptees.

Unfortunately, many Search Angels are not willing to work with Adoptees whose adoptions have been handled by the Edna Gladney agency. Gladney is notoriously stingy with even non-identifying information, forces Adoptees to pay fees and unnecessarily visit psychiatrists, and generally goes out of its way to be as unhelpful as possible to Adoptees searching. From personal experience I can tell you their employees are also quite rude over the phone. This makes assisting an Edna Gladney Adoptee very difficult and, understandably, many Search Angels would rather spend their valuable time helping Adoptees with more workable circumstances. Nevertheless, I discovered two Search Angels willing to help me. The first had access to the Texas birth index.

There are two birth indexes for the State of Texas. The first lists every child born, their natural mother, and their natural father. The second list includes the same information, unless you’re adopted. In that case, the names of your natural parents are deleted and the names of your adoptive parents are written in their place. The second list is the one made public.

Whether by accident or not, the first list was publicly accessible over the internet for a while, if you knew where to look. Finding out the name of your birthparent(s) was supposedly as easy as matching the number on your birth certificate to an entry on the list. I was elated to discover this. The next moment the Search Angel informed me the index covered births up to about three years before I was born. Had my brother been alive at this point he could have discovered his biological mother’s name. I was born too late. My information would not be listed. Another dead end.

In September of 2012 I was contacted by a Search Angel out of Texas. I’ll call her Sam. She’d come across one of my registry postings and reached out to me in hopes I’d be the child match to the natural mother she was assisting. It turned out I wasn’t, but Sam took up my case and we spent the next several years working together.

Sam was a member of Ancestry and thus had access to their database of public documents. I provided her the names of some of my top DNA matches, but initially nothing panned out. Just a few generations ago families in the United States were typically a lot larger than they are now. It’s a gratuitous understatement to say this adds significant difficulty to a search, especially when you’re beginning with a relative five or six generations removed from yourself. I began creating webs of possibilities, mapping out whole families it later turned out I had little real relation to. At least these dead ends were diagrammed.

Then one day a new match popped up at the top of one list. The connection was rated as a possible second to fourth cousin and we shared more genetic data than any of my other connections. In fact, we shared more data than the next several connections combined. The link had the potential to be a real lead.

As Sam and I fawned over the possibilities I began communication with the connection, I’ll call him Dean, through email. On January 17, 2015 Dean emailed me.

Thanks for reaching out.  After looking over your email, some things did look familiar to me and I got in touch with my second cousin, (-name withheld-) in Texas.

(-Name withheld-) and her family have information to share with you.  She asked me to send you her email address which is (-address withheld-) so that you can contact her directly.

Sending kindest regards

I was ecstatic. My cheeks hurt from smiling. This felt like the break-through I had been waiting for. I quickly composed an email and sent it off at 8:35PM into the great beyond, to strangers I’d never met who I hoped would provide me a significant piece of my life puzzle.

I’m an adoptee searching for my family. I do not have access to names or dates because my records were sealed. In the past few days I’ve made contact with (-name withheld-) through a site called Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). As part of this email I’ve forwarded our conversation for your information. (-Name withheld-) said you might have some information for me and I’m very excited! I’ve been searching for a long time and every little bit of information helps. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me.

At 10:25PM I received a response.

I believe that we can help you with at least a little of the information you are seeking. Please let me know how to help …not sure of what would be best for you. We live in a (-city withheld-), TX suburb. So, if you are in the area, we could meet face-to-face. Or, if you prefer email or phone contact, please let me know. I’ve also added my sister, (-name withheld-), as a “Cc” for our messages as she would like to help with this process too.

Though the reply seemed carefully worded, Sam and I gushed. This was definitely a break-through. The kind of break-through in which I might have found my family. We discussed whether or not a phone call was advisable and I told Sam “Oh, I can’t call. I don’t know what I’d say. I have no idea if I’d have a panic attack or just start crying.” “I know,” she replied, “I remember when I made my call 26 years ago!!  I was shaking uncontrollably.”

With Sam’s help I quickly replied letting them know I did not live in Texas and email was preferable to a phone call. No reply came. Overnight my brain ran through a vast quantity of probabilities and scenarios, and a nagging feeling crept into the pit of my stomach. If they, if anyone, had good news, why hadn’t they just told me? If I’d found my mother’s family, my family, why hadn’t they just put me in direct contact with my mother?

The next day was Sunday, January 18, 2015. Company flocked to our household to watch the National Football League’s NFC/AFC Conference Championship games, but between all the snacks, beverages, and friends all I could think about was when I’d receive a reply and what information the message might hold. It was impossible to concentrate for long on anything else. I was fidgety. It was hard to eat. I don’t remember who won the games.

At 7:11PM my phone’s notification sound rang out. I picked up my phone, checked it, and found I’d received an email. Intuition told me not to check the email until after our company had left. Good news or bad, I knew it would have a powerful impact on me and I probably would not be able to control my emotions in front of company. I put my phone down on the living room table and ached for the last game to end.

Finally, our company left. Before their vehicles had exited our driveway I’d snatched my phone from the table and bolted upstairs to my bedroom. As I shut the door my heart pounded in my chest. My hands shook. I grounded myself as best I could, trying to prepare for whatever was to come.

Where they going to tell me where I came from?

Was I about to talk to my mother?

I pulled up the email.

We believe that you are the baby that our sister gave up for adoption in 1979. (-Name withheld-) and I are your biological mother’s sisters. I truly wish that I didn’t have to share sad news with you. Especially considering what you have been through to get this far in your search. Unfortunately, our sister and your birth mother, passed away in 2012.

Nothing could have prepared me. I crumpled to the floor of my bedroom and began to sob. It was my worst nightmare, the thing I dreaded more than death itself. I’d missed her. I’d missed her by just a few, precious years. The emotional pain I felt was so intense it struck me keenly as a physical force.

It hurt.

Sometime later, vision bleary with acrid tears, I read the rest of the email.

 We are ready to answer as many questions as we have answers for; that said, we do not know who your biological father is at this time. Our father may have known, but he has been gone since 1999.

I cannot imagine how this news is affecting you. Please take all the time you need, gather your thoughts, and tell us what gaps we can fill in for your peace of mind or medical history. Feel free to make a detailed list if you like, as it is hard to even begin to know the questions you may want and need answered.

I replied.

Do you have a picture of her?

About an hour and forty minutes later the reply came.

I have attached three photos for now. November 1979 – our sister, (-name withheld-), may have been about 6 weeks pregnant.  Easter – elementary age.  Third one is baby photo.

We struggled with telling you our news through an email and hope that you have someone with you to help you with what must be disappointing news. Short of face-to-face meeting, there was no way to tell you in a way to make this easier for you.

In the future, when you are ready, if you would prefer to talk on the phone – please let us know.

I immediately pulled up the three photos and, for the first time in my life, stared into the face of someone who looked like me. I stared for a long, long time. I looked over every curve of her face. She wore blue jeans and a multicolored plaid shirt. The pictures are fuzzy, but I think I have her neck, her chin, and her cheeks. The picture from November of 1979 is the only picture I have of us together. You can’t even tell I’m there.

I’ve never written back. It’s not that I don’t want to, I do. My aunts seem compassionate and I have so many questions I yearn to have answered, but the pain of this loss is unreal. It wasn’t just the loss of her. I’ve lost the one chance I’ll ever have at reclaiming a part of myself that was stolen.

It’s the part of me that’s Cryptic Omega.

Adolescence is a time when a person may begin the process of developing their identity. I was no different and around the age of sixteen I gave myself the name Cryptic Omega as part of my online persona. My sixteen-year-old self defined the phrase to mean, “unknown end,” using the following logic.

If you don’t know where you’ve come from, how can you know where you are? If you don’t know where you are, how can you know where you’re going? If you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know where you’ll end up.

As the years passed the name became a symbol for a part of myself I thought I’d eventually grow out of as the puzzle pieces fell into place, but in the moment I learned of my mother’s death it felt as if the door to that possibility was slammed shut. I’d never know where I came from. I’d never have answers to my questions or have a baseline for myself. I’d never be able to escape Cryptic Omega. Part of me would always be stuck in the unknown, grasping for puzzle pieces and desperately trying to shove bits of random logic into a single, coherent mass. I would never be able to leave that part of me, that stain, behind. I’d lost my chance at normalcy, I’d lost my hopes and dreams, I’d lost my mother. I’d had enough. No more did I want to keep my experience hidden from the world like a “nice” and “grateful” Adoptee. I decided if the world was going to break my heart I’d do everything I could to force the world to watch the consequences, to see the pain.

I didn’t get much sleep that night and I was still crying the following morning when I slipped outside and propped my old, cheap laptop up on the picnic table in the backyard. The house was out toward the country and it was quiet under the large live oak tree. I brought up a video program, hit the record button, and started talking. I had to stop talking a few times during the video because my emotions threatened to get the better of me, but in the end I think I did okay all things considered. There was no editing, no script revisions, no cue cards. I labeled the video exactly what it was, An Adoptee’s Nightmare, and posted it to YouTube. It’s still up. As long as there’s a chance of another Adoptee finding a grave instead of a living being, I plan on leaving it up. I want that Adoptee to be able to find it, to know they aren’t alone, and I want nonadoptees to understand how painful the experience can be.

After I posted the video I sought out the open arms of my fellow Adoptees. In our community there’s a place for all Adoptees; places for transracial Adoptees, international Adoptees, domestic Adoptees, those adopted from foster care, and others. We’re all over the internet now.

There’s one club nobody really wants to join. It’s the group for people whose searches have ended in graves. When I was accepted they told me “We’re sorry you’re here,” and it was comforting. It was a solemn affair. I only had time to take a breath before Facebook determined my name, Cryptic Omega, was not “authentic” and deactivated my account.

The irony is not lost on me. The name I have chosen for myself, a name that describes a large part of my life and who I am, the name my closest friends call me and under which I publish essays and short films, is the one a faceless corporation has deemed illegitimate.

How dismissive.

How symbolically appropriate.

Being torn away from the only place I’d ever found comfort as an Adoptee was like pouring vodka on an open wound. I seethed, I huffed, and I vowed to fight back. Just a little bit of time to catch my breath, I told myself, and I’d start the fight to reactivate my account. However, the longer I waited the less I missed Facebook. It became apparent to me I’d allowed the service to become more of a hindrance than a benefit. I’ll always miss the people in those groups. They will always have a special place in my heart and I can say without any degree of uncertainty I have no idea where I’d be without them. However, I do not see myself rejoining Facebook.

Whatever the circumstances, however the union unfolded, I am undeniably a member of my adoptive family. Interrelationships within our family unit have varied according to the involved members and general environment at the time. The most tumultuous of the bunch was the relationship between my brother and me. As a teenager I’d disavowed him as my brother. It wasn’t something I took lightly, but felt pushed into conceding for my own well-being. By the time he passed in the early 2000’s our relationship was constrained to the binding legal tendrils of adoption law and our mutual connection to our adoptive parents.

At the risk of sounding abrupt, I’ll draw my conclusion here.

It’s taken me longer than I anticipated to write this piece. I had been under the admittedly naïve impression the task would take a day or two, but the more I wrote the more information I realized I should include to present an accurate representation of my experience. I’ve yet to expand upon my relationship with my adoptive brother or how finally, after thirty years, my adoptive parents and I have started to develop our relationship. I haven’t talked about the influence of adoption on my intimate relationships or friendships, why I’ve yet to contact my biological family again, experiencing medical issues sans a family medical history, or how it feels to grow up in isolation because your family is very obviously different from everyone else’s. There’s just so much more. Maybe it’s time to start a longer literary project.

Until next time, I share this message in the hopes of promoting unity within the Adoptee community, empowering community members, and educating nonadoptees.

Cryptic Omega

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Taqwetta Crawley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reader discretion is advised.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

The Inability to Trust

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

What might this do to you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could you imagine the pain that this caused them?

The pain it must have caused her?

The pain it was now causing me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: Taqwetta “AtlmaryJ” Crawley

Email: atlmaryj@gmail.com

Check out  Taqwetta’s blog

http://atlmaryj.blogspot.com/

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

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

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

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

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

WHAT IT COST TO BE ME:

Adoptee in Recovery

RELINQUISHMENT & BEYOND

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

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

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

You might ask WHY that is so important.

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

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

For me, I was alive but not living.

I was dead inside not knowing my TRUTH.

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

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

None of us can.

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

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

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

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

Her life continued on…

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

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

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

THE BETTER LIFE

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

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

Everything is perfect or so it seems…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My life story is in agreement with this statement.

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

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

I NEEDED TO KNOW MY TRUTH!

IT WAS KILLING ME INSIDE NOT KNOWING THE TRUTH!

THE TRUTH FINALLY SURFACES

But not without a fight.

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

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

Imagine for a moment how that might feel?

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

It never was about ME.

I AM ALIVE.

I HAVE FEELINGS.

I MATTER.

I’M NOT A BABY ANYMORE!

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

Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!

There is no real preparation for THIS!

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

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

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

Where does this leave me?

Broken hearted & feeling alone in this world.

“With God, You are never alone.”

TRUE!

I get peace in this!

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

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

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

BREAKING FREE

Resulting in Adoptee in Recovery

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

I could not do this in the fog!

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

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

THIS IS TRUE FOR ALL OF US!

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

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

Acceptance of this is key.

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

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

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

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

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

Help us get our TRUTH so we can HEAL.

PLEASE?

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

August 13, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where am I today November 27, 2016?

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

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

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

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

Does that take the pain away?

NO.

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

BOTH ARE EXTREMELY PAINFUL.

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY I NO LONGER DRINK TO NUMB MY PAIN! 

I’M FACING IT HEAD ON!

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

John 8:32

So for me…..

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted?

Lonely & Painful & Acceptance of a Lifetime of Recovery

Pamela A. Karanova

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

Find her on Twitter:@pamelakaranova

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

 

me

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

 

 

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

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

“Jane Doe”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being adopted has been very hard for me to accept. 

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

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

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

Tammy K. Murphy

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Nicole Blank

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

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

 An Adoptee Prelude

Nicole Blank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We matter.

Our truths are real. 

Adoption is,  often,  a millstone around our necks.

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

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

Nicole Blank

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Angela

slett

 

BIO: I’m a 48 years old Norwegian domestic adoptee. I work as a conductor and music teacher, am married and have three biological children (with two different fathers) and three bonus children. I’m one of those “your mother couldn’t take care of you due to low income, out of wedlock and no possibilities, so she gave you away”-children from the late 60’s. I experienced lots of emotional abuse in my adoptive family.

 

 

 

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

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

I’m a domestic adoptee and came to my adoptive family three weeks old and knew all along that I was adopted. I was kind of okay with it as a child, I guess because I didn’t know any other way and because my adoptive dad was a good dad the first years. Things changed. From age three I started spending time reading books, newspapers and encyclopedias, and in my adoptive family that was very odd. None of them used to read books – and here I was at three… And then I was indeed a very musical child. I could hear a song on the radio and rush to the Steinway at my adoptive mom’s workplace to play the song. That was odd to them too and I guess my adoptive mom was kind of spooked when her toddler told her to stop singing because she sang out of tune.

Through my reading I early realized that my home was kind of different from normal homes (I didn’t read only comic books, but also quite serious literature about real people’s problems), and when I started getting opinions of my own, I stopped being daddy’s little girl. My adoptive dad was a racist, homophobic, narrow minded, cheap and selfish narcissist – and I saw right through him. I was his opposite. Curious, eager to learn, trusting statistics over rumors, sharing whatever I had, saw the good in people and found it very unfair to harass people for things they couldn’t help (like being black or gay). So clearly our personalities clashed big time.

My adoptive mom was alright in many ways.

I think she actually loved me.

Unfortunately she did everything he did and always agreed with him to avoid his anger outbursts that could last for weeks and even months, so I lost respect for her as time went by.  She wanted to leave him, but didn’t have the guts to do so. She got scared, I got angry. She got beaten while he didn’t beat me more than a couple of times. I guess he felt intimidated when I stared him right back with angry eyes, totally despising him, so I got away from the physical abuse while the mental abuse continued. Even when she did everything she could, I wasn’t very close to her. If I skinned my knees, I preferred to get the band aid myself and no hugs. I never got close to any of my adopters. I didn’t let her in my personal space while he didn’t bother giving hugs anyway. When I as an adult got my divorce, I took her maiden name as my surname. Adoptive dads surname just makes me feel sick, and I really want no connection to his family at all.

I was never good enough. Not clever enough (unless I brought an A home from school, and then he would brag to his family and give me money in front of them). I was a disgrace and an expense. My cousins were so much better than me even though they actually got into lots of more trouble than I ever did. He let his family discriminate and make fun of me. My aunt said “don’t bring that illegitimate bastard here”. I was and alien and was treated like one. My adoptive mom’s family treated me alright, like one of them, but they lived in another country. (And pardon my English, it’s my third language so bare over with grammar faults.) I’ve wondered lots of times why my adopters bothered to get themselves a baby when he didn’t want to have a relationship with it. Adoptive mom told me it was his fault that they didn’t get any biological children. (Apparently he couldn’t get it up.) I often wonder if I over the years got to be this constant reminder of his lack of manliness.

I’m a second choice.

I grew up with very little toys and clothes, only the essentials I had to have to keep a good facade, even though he made lots of money and could afford expensive cars for himself.  And that followed me. I had to sell stuff to get money for school books, and even occasionally had to steal books (!) he wouldn’t pay for when I was in high school.  Millionaires daughter growing up in poverty. I just wasn’t worth anything. I wasn’t allowed to go to the high school I wanted to go (because then he would have to pay for the bus ticket), but had to take classes in the local high school. So I didn’t take the education I wanted, and my grades dropped, which of course was wrong too.

I was such a loser…

I couldn’t talk about my biological family at home. That was an accusation against His Highness for so graciously doing all this effort to taking in shit from the gutter. Every time I did something a bit beside what he had planned, he threatened to throw me out and disown me. And it used to scare the crap out of me to be left again so I played along – but it was impossible to not annoy him; it could be as little as wearing the wrong pair of jeans.

Such an ungrateful, worthless little bastard, right!

The tense relationship at home, the constant fear of being rejected again and all those years walking on eggshells made me distrust people. Holding a safe distance to avoid being hurt. It made me walk out on relationships too soon, doing too little to fix – because I preferred to leave before they left me. I mean: When parents can leave you, your adopters threaten to leave you, your adoptive family doesn’t want you or respect you… how can a spouse or partner care about you? Nah, better leave before they find someone better. I realize that today and my husband understands my mixed feelings and why it took me so long to trust him (and that I, even though I trust him, not REALLY trust him after all – even though he hasn’t done anything at all to hurt me and really tries to spoil me in any way).

I moved away from my adopters as soon as possible. When I got pregnant (age 27) I needed to know my biological family. I remember crying at the GP’s office because I couldn’t answer her questions about my medical history. It felt as if I gave my unborn child a death sentence. I had met my biological mom a couple of times before, but we never really discussed these issues. Now I needed to know, and because I was an adult she gave me my birth certificate and a paper with my biological dad’s name. I contacted him too, not to get another parent, but to get some answers.

I don’t have any contact with my biological mom today, but I’m Facebook friend with my biological dad. I’m Facebook friend with two siblings, two siblings are both on Facebook and we meet in real life every now and then.  I don’t have any contact at all with two.  It was strange to meet myself in my brother and sister. We have gotten quite close these past couple of years. My sister was my maid of honor when I got married. By the way, I got a man I know to walk me down the aisle, while I didn’t tell my adoptive dad and his family that I was getting married. It was a very nice wedding without any adoptive family members at all!

How strange to meet siblings and be like someone!

We look alike, we say the same things, do the same things, have the same expressions and mannerisms, dress alike, my sister and I both treat our ex’s (and our children’s fathers) with the same respect, we’re all quite afraid of conflicts. My brother and I both did an adventurous journey to a very different place on earth. We like big machines, we played the same instrument, and we hardly touch alcohol. We share views on so many things in the everyday life. It’s just incredible! I mean, I’m a result of 10 % upbringing and 90 % DNA. I couldn’t have been more like my siblings if we had grown up together.

But even if I have lots in common with my siblings, we’re not ‘truly’ family because we don’t share all these moments that family brings. We didn’t grow up together. We haven’t got a shared memory bank. So they are my family but aren’t, and I don’t trust them to care about me. My adoptive family aren’t my family either. So apart from my own children I’m all alone in this world. My family tree emerged from nothing and started with me.  The family tree on my adoptive family and biological family’s side are just people I don’t care about, they’re only names. They’re not ‘mine’. I really couldn’t care less about my adoptive dad, biological mum and biological dad. They’re strangers. I care more about my dogs. (But don’t you dare to touch my children! I’ll rip your heart out! They’re my life. My heritage. Me.) I wish I could trust my biological family. I wish I could trust any people instead of expecting the worst and giving up too soon. These trust issues has cost me partners, friendships, jobs… I just walk away and don’t look back, and I have this feeling that I’m better off alone. I used to put my head in the sand and let life walk by.  Sometimes I’m even afraid my children don’t care about me and that I failed there too, even though they’re all doing fine and we have a good relationship.

I don’t even trust my children not to leave me.

I cried when my adoptive mom passed away, but didn’t care very much. It was a bit sad, that’s all. I had hoped he would’ve died first, but he didn’t. I have no contact at all with him. It’s what’s best for me. I need to get distance to him. I’ve had my fair share of depressions, PTSD and anxiety, and it was when I realized I was perfectly normal that I could start to heal. I was just responding normal to an abnormal situation! What a relief! I’m not mad! It’s not MY fault the relationship with my adoptive dad didn’t work out. I tried and tried, and I was ridiculously kind as a child and an easy-to-handle teenager with no drugs, no drink, no crime, no pregnancies. Everything to keep his anger level down. And even that wasn’t enough. I used to think he would appreciate it if I killed myself (and that it would have hurt him to have to use money to bury me). I used to think the world would be a better place without a freak like me.

But you know what?

I’m not the scared little girl I used to be anymore! I’m done with holding back. Done with trying to please him. Done with “being okay”. Yes, it has cost me a couple of friendships to get this far, but it sure was worth it. If they can’t accept the truth, then I don’t need them in my life. I’m on the barricades now, fighting for a society where almost no children at all get adopted and where everyone knows his/her family if possible. I’m fighting against CPS and their foster care system that tear children out of their families for no reason at all. I’m fighting for family preservation – and I’m pro-abortion – I’m one of those adoptees who think abortion is a better option than adoption.

No one deserves to lose their entire family. No one deserves to be punished for thinking about their biological family. No one deserves to go through life as an alien, not being sure who you are and what you should be like, knowing if you’re good enough or where you got your mannerisms from. Every child needs to know their roots, their culture, their name, their siblings and their parents. I need to be ME, not the picture strangers meant me to be. I wasn’t born a blank slate, but had to go through forty years of my life to realize who I was and having the guts to follow MY dreams (which I also got punished for – I mean, I don’t have a real job or a real education in His Highness’ eyes.)

I’m a proud advocate for family preservation!

Adoption should be the very last resort.

Angela

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted?- Marlana Deatherage

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My Husband & I

BIO: My name is Marlana Deatherage, and I am a 49-year-old adoptee.  I was adopted as an infant, and I had the most wonderful adoptive parents in the world.  I have an adopted sister who is three years younger than me.  She has health problems and is mentally challenged.  She now lives with my husband and me since my parents have both passed away.  I grew up in a small town in northeast Texas where I still live today.  I am in my 27th year of teaching and currently teach high school math.  I have been married to my wonderful husband almost 27 years.  My husband and I have three grown children, two grandchildren, and another due in February 2017.  I enjoy reading stories from other adoptees because I can relate in some way to each story, so I hope that other adoptees can relate to parts of my story and know that they are not alone in their thoughts and feelings.  I believe it is very important for us to support each other.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

 I have been asked that question many times, and my answer to that question has changed over the years.

I grew up knowing I was adopted.

  I had the most wonderful adoptive parents a child could ask for, and my mother starting talking to me about it before I could even really understand.  There was no moment in time when I “found out” I was adopted.  I grew up knowing it.  During my childhood years, when someone would ask me what it felt like to be adopted, I would just say I didn’t feel any different than anyone else.  Things started to change for me when I became a teenager.

My parents were wonderful people, but a lot of the time I just didn’t feel like I “fit in.”  I now understand that this was probably during the stage where I was forming my own identity, and I just couldn’t quite figure out who I was.  I started then to wonder about my birth family and wondered who I looked like.

I wondered a lot about my birth mother during my first pregnancy at the age of 24.  I loved my baby from the moment I knew I was pregnant, and I wondered all during my pregnancy how my birth mother felt during that time.  After I had my daughter, I remember thinking, “This is the first person I’ve seen in my life that I am blood related to.”  A few years after I had my third child, I had some mental issues and was eventually diagnosed with ADHD and Major Depressive Disorder.  I was in my early 30’s at the time.  Through counseling I found that I had never really established my identity, and this was most likely due to being adopted.

I decided then that I really needed to find my birth family.

My counselor and adoptive parents supported that endeavor wholeheartedly.  I had my records opened to an intermediary in or around 2000, but my birth mother never responded.  The intermediary was a birth mother herself, so she told me all she could legally tell me from my file.  I found out my birth mother was married at the time of my birth, but her husband was not my birth father.  The intermediary said she was still married to him, which probably explained why she didn’t respond.  I knew from the non-identifying information I had that she was in her early 30’s when I was born.  That had always puzzled me; you usually think of teenage mothers giving up their babies, not women in their 30’s.  That explained why I was probably given up.  The intermediary also told me I had a half-brother.  I never really did any serious searching on my own.  Since my birth mother had not contacted the intermediary, I felt that maybe God was closing the door…that maybe there were some things better left alone, so I went on with my life.

I thought about my birth mother from time to time, especially on my birthday.  I wondered if she was thinking about me like I was about her.

I once told someone I felt like a walking, talking set of random DNA just floating around out in space.  I felt like a stranger in my own skin, which may sound strange to a non-adoptee.  I didn’t know why I excelled in school and enjoyed academics, especially math.  I didn’t know why I loved to read.  I didn’t know where I got the ability to sing.  I didn’t know why I liked animals so much.  I didn’t know why I was so headstrong and stubborn.

I didn’t know who I looked like. 

I didn’t know who I was!

In early 2014 I decided to send in my DNA to 23andMe.  I don’t remember why I decided to send it to that company over the others, but whatever reason I had at the time, it was definitely divine intervention.  When I received my results, the closest relatives were a couple of possible third cousins.  I sent the top matches a message but never heard anything.

On Saturday, March 28, 2015, while my husband and I were out shopping, I decided to check my email on my phone.  I had a message from a woman who had recently received her results from 23andMe, which showed us to be second cousins.  She said she was surprised to see our match.  I immediately sent her a message and briefly told her my story.  I told her I was not looking to disrupt any family relationships but I was sure she could understand my desire to know my biological history.  I received a message from her rather quickly saying she had talked to her father and she believed that my birthmother was her aunt, her dad’s half-sister, who I will refer to as “Nancy.”

This cousin gave me her phone number and I called her immediately.  Nancy, her aunt, had been deceased since October 2012.  I was shaking the entire time I talked with her and was so emotional that I don’t remember a whole lot of details about the conversation with her.  The one thing I do remember, that to this day gives me chills, is when she told me what my grandfather’s name was.  His name was Levi and the reason that gave me chills was that I had a grandson that was almost three months old and his name was also Levi.  That was a moment I will never forget.  She told me she would talk with her dad some more and she was sure he would probably call me.

That night her dad called me and his sister called me.  They were both half-siblings of Nancy and were quite a few years younger than her.  In fact, she was 20 years older than the uncle (the youngest sibling) with whom I spoke that night.  Levi, my grandfather, had 12 children.  Nancy was the third child.  All of her full-blood siblings were deceased, except a brother.  He called me the next night and we talked for quite a while.  I found out I had three half-siblings, two brothers and a sister.  The brothers were 12 and 14 years older than me, and the sister was 10 years older.  They knew their mother had given up a baby.  Their dad was in the military, and he would be gone for long periods of time.  During one of those times, Nancy had an affair, and I was the product of that affair.  I found out from one of the family members that Nancy and her husband were having marriage difficulties and she believed that the marriage was over, but when her husband returned from overseas, they evidently decided to stay together, so for obvious reasons, I was given up for adoption.

I had another surprise in store for me. 

Nancy’s two youngest half-siblings had been contacted a few years prior by a man stating that he had an affair with her, and she had given their baby daughter up for adoption, and he was trying to find his daughter.  At first they thought I was that baby, so I had my hopes up that my birth father was looking for me, but he said that his baby was born in 1968 and I was born in 1967.  Also, his baby was premature, and I knew I was full term.  I started to wonder if maybe I was connected to this family in some other way.  When I talked to my brother, he said he knew who my birth father was and gave me his name.  The name he gave me was not the man who had contacted my aunt and uncle a few years before.

In the state of Texas, if you are an adoptee and have the name of the parents listed on your original birth certificate, you can fill out a form, send it in with $10, and if the information you provide matches the information on the original birth certificate, you can get an unofficial copy of your original birth certificate.  I felt pretty certain that my birth mother listed her husband as my father on the birth certificate, so I filled out the form and hoped that everything matched.  About six weeks later, I received an unofficial copy of my original birth certificate in the mail, confirming that I was indeed, Nancy’s biological daughter.  My siblings and other family members knew my birth mother had given up one baby, but to everyone’s surprise, she had evidently given up two baby daughters about 16 months apart.

It has been a roller coaster ride since finding my birth family. 

I got to meet my brother Mark in June 2015 right before he passed away from lung cancer.  I have also met my half-sister and some other family members but have not been in contact with them in a while.  I hope that maybe we can get together again sometime.  I guess I could reach out, but as just about any adoptee will understand, the possibility of rejection is too painful to think about.

In May 2015 I contacted my birth father’s daughter, my half-sister.  She had no idea I existed.  She didn’t seem to think her dad knew about me, but Nancy’s family says they think he did know about me.  My birth father is still alive but has Alzheimer’s disease, so I doubt that I will ever meet him.  When she talked to him about me, he seemed confused.  She looked at my pictures on Facebook and told me I look like him, especially when I was younger.  She sent me a picture of him, and I just sat and stared.  The resemblance was remarkable.  I have not confirmed paternity through DNA, but I don’t feel like I need to.  Just seeing his photo was enough for me.  Also, I sent my DNA to Ancestry and I have several ancestors with his surname, so I don’t have any doubts that he is my birth father.  I found out that he was a professional piano player and singer!  His wife sent me a CD of him singing and playing the piano.  I have listened to that CD over and over.  A few months later she sent me a DVD with a clip from a Dallas/Fort Worth news broadcast highlighting his last public performance.  He played in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for years.  I hope to maybe meet my half-sister one day.  I have not discussed that with her yet, but I am ready to find out more about my birth father’s side of the family.

As for the other baby my birth mother gave up, I have not yet done any serious searching for her.  I have the names of 19 baby girls born on that day in that county, so I know it has to be one of them.  I really do want to find her, but it just seems that life gets in the way.

As I write this, I realize that I really need to make it a priority to find her.

Finding my birth family has been a life-changing experience for me.  I have learned so much about myself.  I can now answer those questions I previously mentioned.

Why did I excel academically, especially math?  My birthmother’s sister had a Master’s degree in Math and taught high school math.  I have two cousins that are math teachers.  Math ability has always been strong on my birthmother’s side of the family.

Why do I like to read so much?  Why do I love animals?  The first thing my sister asked me was if I liked to read and if I like animals.  She said Nancy loved to read and loved animals.

Where did I get the ability to sing?  My birth father was a professional pianist and singer.

Why was I so headstrong and stubborn?  My uncle described Nancy as boisterous, demanding, and wanted things her way.

Who did I look like?  I actually favor both of my birth parents, but it seems that I most favor my birth father.  However, when my sister and her daughter both saw me walking toward them the day we met, they both broke down crying, because they said I reminded them so much of my birth mother.  I am about her height and they said I walked like her.

My adoption journey is not over and probably never will be.  I have not regretted for a second finding my birth family.  My only regret is that I found them after both of my adoptive parents were gone.  They were very supportive of me finding my birth family, and I am sorry that they weren’t here to share this experience with me, especially my mother.  I am also sorry that I was never able to tell my birth mother that I had wonderful parents who loved me and took very good care of me.

As I look back over my life, I realize that I have been formed by both nature and nurture.  I think that I am a balanced combination of the two, but before March 28, 2015, the nature part was a mystery and for me, I needed that information in order to know who I am.  I finally feel complete instead of some random set of DNA.

So, how does it feel to be adopted?  Without knowing my biological history, I felt isolated and alone.  Knowing what I know now has given me a sense of well-being and peace that I had not experienced before.

The “nature” and “nurture” parts of me are now reconciled.

Thanks for reading,

Marlana Deatherage

Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Maria Williams

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

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

My Adoption Story

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

As a child I was very lonely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well God has a great sense of humor.

He proved it to me about eighteen months later.

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

The emotions were all mixed up inside me. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Makes no sense to me at all.

Maria Williams

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Adult Adoptee

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted?- Sarah Pape

image1BIO: My name is Sarah, I’m 42, born in Madison, WI and I was adopted as an infant.  I grew up in Missouri.  I have 4 kids (19, 15, 14 and 6).  2 girls and 2 boys.

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?

Instead of stories being told of when I was born….my stories were about when I was adopted.  So “Adopted” was a term I grew up with until I was able to ask what that meant.

I was adopted by a white (birth mom’s request) Jewish couple.  I didn’t know much about my adoption except that my birth mom was white. My father was black. That my father passed before I was born.  That I was born in Madison, Wisconsin at Madison General Hospital.  And that I was a secret.

My dad’s (adoptive dad) family lives in Wisconsin, so when we drove to visit, if I saw a black person I always wondered if I was related to them.

Looking back now and understanding my feelings better, I’ve realized that I have always had anger towards my birth mom.  I never wanted a relationship with her.  I just never understood how one could leave a child and never look back or speak about it.

Any types of relationships are hard for me.  Having an argument/disagreement with someone, I’m always triggered and automatically start to think that “they’re going to leave me” (abandoned again), so I tend to leave first.  (Definitely working on this tho!)  As far as I can remember my abandonment thought was “she left me. So could you.”

I tested my parents as a teenager, seeing if they’ll leave me too. They’ve gotten upset with me but they never left.  But still, I always think they will.

My childhood was fine. Great. No complaints. My parents took very good care of my 2 brothers and I.  (One who is also adopted a year after me).  I played basketball.  I had my friends, but me being adopted was never a topic I’d bring up.  Never something I wanted to explain to new people.  But, it was something that was always on my mind.

The older I got with meeting new people, the more comments and questions I got.

“I didn’t know you were adopted”

“Do you know who your parents are?”

“Do you have any siblings?”

“Why did your parents adopt you?”

“How old were you?”

“You should be grateful they saved you”

“You should be happy that she didn’t abort you” 

“Aaww.  You’re special.  You were chosen”  

(Fact: I was the next available baby to the next available adoptive family)

There were always comments or questions that reminded me and made me feel like I had a big arrow with flashing lights pointing at me like “hey! She’s different!!”  To this day…..no matter how much I try and “forget” I’m adopted, it’s never possible.  There’s always going to be a trigger.

I attempted suicide a year after high school. Couldn’t explain what I was feeling then, but now I can say is that, triggers of abandonment took a toll on me. I was just tired of thinking I was unwanted.

In 2003 I finally decided I’d give it a try and do the whole “contact” thing.  So at the beginning of January 2003 I mailed off my first contact attempt.  It took a few months but I finally received the phone call from Wisconsin’s Department of Health and Family Services.  The lady told me that at this time my birth mother wanted no contact or the release of her identity.  There I was, left broken hearted.  I was rejected all over again.  All I could do was cry….in secret.  I kept my emotions and feelings to myself.  I knew no one would understand.

Through social media (MySpace, had an adoptee group) I learned about “non-identification”. Which is basically your adoption file with “identifying” information blanked out.  So when when I was able to do my search request again,  I requested my non-identification as well. This time around, I get a letter in the mail.  A letter explaining to me that the birth mom still didn’t want her identity known.  But that she would write a letter to explain everything.  (Still waiting for that letter).  The letter continues to explain that I couldn’t have my father’s name because a father was never established.  (buuuutttt……they needed his death certificate at the termination of parental rights hearing. Ok. Whatever!).  I then started to look over the non-identification paperwork.  It was an unexplainable weird yet exciting feeling.  Here in front of me were the papers my birth mother filled out. Here was a letter to her case worker IN HER HANDWRITING!!!!  Here it was, the timeline of her pregnancy.  Her pregnancy with ME!!!! And then came the reality of it all.  She never wanted me. There was never a time where she thought “maybe I can do it”.  All I seen was how quick it all went down.

January 1974, she finds out she’s pregnant.  Spotted for 7 months.  January 1974, she starts the adoption paperwork.  Agency tells her she needs the father’s consent.  February 1974, she’s told by canning company that he moved to Florida.  March 1974, receives notice from the canning company in Florida that he had an accident and passed away.  March 1974, decides to be induced. March 4th I’m born.  March 7th, she walks away.  March 8th, I’m placed in foster care. April, she terminates her rights.  Next to that, the caseworker notes “(blanked out name) happy to get it over with”.  April/May I’m placed with my adoptive family.

I couldn’t try contacting again for another 5 years.  Honestly, I was OK with that.  I truly needed to process what I just read.

In 2008 I attempted suicide again.

The thought of her never wanting me had been haunting me more and more, causing me to feel more unworthy than usual.  There was nothing my mom, my dad or anybody could have said to have made things any better.  What I needed was answers. The only one with those answers didn’t want to explain what happened.  My birthmom. 

In 2012 through Facebook I started connecting with people like me.  Adoptees who knew what I was saying without really having to say much.  Adoptees who were going through all the struggles I was going through.  Adoptees who were feeling EXACTLY what I was feeling.  And for once, I started to feel like I was understood.  Because for the longest, I always felt alone because no one could relate.

There were many things I learned from the community.  Found books by adoptees and read comments in groups on ways they healed from the feeling of rejection.  How they coped.  How to let my voice be heard.  I also learned in the adoption community was to “never believe your non identifying paperwork”.  I heard that a lot.  That their paperwork was all lies.  But I kept thinking that my paperwork was correct.  That it couldn’t happen to me.

In 2012 I attempted to find a therapist that specialized in adoptees.  I was still struggling and now I felt like I knew how to express what I was feeling in hopes to get that help.  No such luck.  Not in my area or even close to me.  Only found therapists who specialized in adoption (big difference I found out) but I decided to try it.  Biggest mistake ever.

First guy hears my story and my feelings.  His response “you need to keep telling yourself that she didn’t want you”.  I just sat there with a blank face, tears started rolling and I then ask “are we done?” (We still had 40 minutes left). He said “yup”.

Second attempt was with a female.  I thought maybe a female would be more sensitive about the topic.  Again. I tell my story and express my feelings.  Her response “find something of hers and burn it.”  I understood where she was going with that, but uuummm, I didn’t know who my birth mom was and definitely didn’t have anything of hers……except for what she left behind.

Me.  So my mind starts messing with me and thinks “so do I burn myself??”  I basically learned that there’s really only therapists to help the birth mom deal with giving up her child or for the new adoptive parents.  But nothing for the adoptee.  Made me wonder “Do our feelings even matter?”

March 2013, I do a 23andme DNA test.  The most exciting yet terrifying feeling ever, because I will be getting to see names of people I’m actually blood related to.  Longest 6 weeks ever waiting for those results.  I get my results.  I see people I’m related to.  2nd cousins, 5th cousins, segments and other “gene” terminology I knew nothing about.  I see the breakdown of what makes me. Yay!  But I still  had no clue as to what my next step was to be.

Luckily, through the adoption community I’m contacted by my search angel. 

Two and a half years pass.  August 2015, I’m about to park at Walmart when I get a message in the group messaging from my angels.  They found her.  They found my birth mom.  Name. Picture.  Location.  Her sibling’s names. Their location.  Her parent’s name.  All I could do was stare at the message.  Stare at the picture.  No tears.  I’m just in shock.  And now the hard work for me was about to begin.  I needed to make the contact.

This was going to be an extremely hard thing to do.

1.I’m extremely shy.

2. I do not want to disrupt anyone’s life. It’s a lose lose situation, for she or I or both.

Do I go on with not knowing the answer to my biggest question I had (who is my father?) or do I take that chance of exposing her secrecy and either getting the answer or being told to go away?

I take my chance. 

None of numbers that were listed for her were working numbers. So I had decided to send a message through Facebook. No answer. I then choose to reach out to her daughter.  I wrote down everything I wanted to say.  I needed this to be perfect.  I call the number.  It goes to voicemail.  I hang up.  She calls back.  I’m scared!!!  But I answered and I read what I knew I needed to say.Her response “but I knew nothing about you”. (The secrecy is now out)

And then I got hung up on…

I let it be.

I knew I wasn’t going to get to know anything.

A few minutes passed and I started to receive texts from the daughter asking questions and wanting to know more, somewhat. But she did say she passed on my request to her mother and that her mother said “she’d look into it”.  I never heard from her again and never heard from her mother.

The more time that passed the more upset I got. 

I just wanted to know his name!!!  

That’s it!!!!!

Why is this so hard to answer!!!???  

Why can’t I just get my birth father’s name!!!??

I then decided to reach out to my birth mom’s mother, because I knew she knew about me.  I made the call, talked for about 30 minutes and she confirmed it all.  Her daughter did have a child and put her up for adoption.  I then asked if maybe she knew who my father was.  She said she was unsure.  She too said she’d pass on my contact information.  It was always a dead end.

In January 2016 I messaged a relative on her side stating the same thing as I had with others.  I just wanted to know who my father was.  My question was finally answered.

“Jimmie Steele”!!!!!

I passed that on to my angels and a day later we found a Jimmie Steele with a Wisconsin location.  I messaged the gentleman who had this picture of Jimmie Steele.  Explaining to him a short version of my story. “That I was born in 1974.  That my birth father never knew of her pregnancy and asked if they knew my birth mom.”

The gentleman was so kind to me.  He said he would look into it and let me know. I began to think he blew me off because I didn’t hear from him for like 2 days. (Yes. 2 days that seemed like an eternity!)  I was thinking that maybe he thought I was a scam.

Saturday January 23rd, 2016.  The gentleman tries to call me on Facebook messenger but I was taking a nap. (emotionally drained from all the excitement)  When I wake, I seen the missed call and a message from him.

“You might be my daughter, get back to me”

WHAT!!!!????

Remember?  “never believe your non identifying paperwork” 

Right.  It happened to me!!

I call him back and I say “You’re supposed to be dead!!

And definitely not meaning that in a mean or disrespectful way, but for almost 42 years I “believed” that this man was to be deceased. A DNA test was ordered and done. (Yes. We face timed each other. I needed to see him do it! Lol)

The results come back……

HE’S MY FATHER!

My father is alive. 

But now the million dollar question is

“Who did she say was my father that allowed her to get a death certificate?”

So, my father never knew about me.  Never knew about my birth mom’s pregnancy.  But they met at a bar and began to date.  She even lived with my father and his mother.  But one day she just up and left and never spoke to him again.  She knew exactly where he was (Milwaukee). Knew his family and how to get ahold of them.  But because she didn’t want HIS consent to place me, she decides to name some deceased person.

#CrookedSystem

I did however, through all this, I found out the reasoning of why I was put up for adoption.

I was black.

I know “but you have to consider the time. It was 1974.”  Yea yea yea.  I get all that, but that still doesn’t take the pain away.  That because of my skin color, I was a dirty secret, I was unwanted, I was left and I was forgotten about.

Adoption is confusing, emotionally draining, filled with lies, dead ends, multiple rejections, against fathers who want to keep their child and unanswered questions.

Through my journey, I have gained and met a cousin who I love and adore and talk to daily, her parents (my uncle and his wife. birth mom’s brother) and her kids (my little cousins).  I’ve gained my father, I have a little sister (always wanted a sister), aunts, uncles and cousins.  I’ve learned that “my people” came from the south, Mississippi.

My search has definitely filled in some missing pieces for me. I’ve accepted not being accepted by my birth mom and some of her family.  But at the same time, it’s a loss that I don’t know how to heal from.

My search may have ended and I have new relationships to build, but my fear still remains.

“Will they abandon me?”

Sarah Pape

Adult Adoptee

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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.

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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? – Michele Leavitt

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

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

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

Originally Published on Guernica

Hidden in a Suitcase

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

*                      *                     *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just like Momma.”

“Momma’s hair.”

“Look at her hands.”

“Momma’s hands.”

“Momma’s eyes.”

Talking all at once, hands grabbing my hands.

“She’s crying.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Was not!” He was right behind her.

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

“We was just goin’ for a ride.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who loves you, little man?” I asked.

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

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

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

*                      *                     *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*                      *                     *

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

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

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

*                      *                     *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michele Leavitt

Adult Adoptee

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

Buckle and Sway

Smoke and Molasses

 

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted?- 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? -Margaret T.

dscn0323-1-1BIO: My name is Margaret. I live in Ontario Canada. I have been married to my husband Maurice for almost 27 years. We have a dog named Pedro. I like to bike and writing is my passion . I like to cook and  I like to do aqua cycle and swim . I was in a parade as a clown I like to dress up.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 
 
For me to answer this, “How does it feel to be adopted?” is a loaded question.
Growing up,  the topic of my adoption was a closed subject. My adoption was not talked about. I do,  however,  have a distant first memory of me talking about my adoption with my mom. I remember my mom tucking me into bed one night and mentioning that she was glad that I was part of their family  now. “Your parents could not look after you. Your parents asked us if we would take you. We love having you as our little girl.”
I wondered why my parents could not look after me.
I wondered who my parents were.
I asked mom once. Her answer was that it wasn’t anything for me to worry about and that this wasn’t something we should talk about with outsiders.
Over the years, I wondered and pined over why my parents could not look after me and where my parents were. The questions, unanswered,  left me with a hole in my heart. In that hole, sadness grew. I wondered where I fit in. I became anxious when I thought I was being abandoned by people. I began to question people if they let me down. I struggled with trust issues.
During different times in my life, I did not think that I belonged in my family. People tried to reassure me that I did. One lady pointed out to me that I looked like my cousin. In glancing over at my cousin,  I could see the resemblance. A friend of mine tried to convince me that I did belong in my family too. I pushed these words aside each time. Life went on. I suffered from depression and bouts of anger. No one seemed to know how to help me. The “missing piece” haunted me. I wondered if I would ever find out the answers to my questions.
At age 28, my adopted dad passed away suddenly. It was another loss that threw me for a loop and again made me wonder about my birth parents.
Life continued on and a while later, I met Maurice,  who later became my husband. We dated for two years and got engaged at Christmas. We married a year after that.
A month before our wedding, mom and I were looking for my Savings Bond at the bank and we came upon my adoption papers. I opened them with mom watching me. As I read through them, I came upon a name that I didn’t recognize: Linda Marie Lunn. “Who is Linda Marie?” I asked. “Margaret,” answered my mom quietly, “That is the name your mother gave you at birth. I am not at liberty to give you any more information.” I thought to myself, “that is odd! Why can mom not tell me about my birth parents? After all, I am 30 years old!” My wedding day was coming up soon, so I let the matter go, but I was very hurt that mom would not give me any more information.
I mentioned to one of my bridesmaids about my discovery of my birth name. She suggested that I contact Toronto Social Services to get more information.  I did contact them. I received forms, which I filled in and returned,  then waited for a reply. I also sent an inquiry to the Children’s Aid in Cobourg.
My hurt turned into uncontrolled anger, which I took out on my husband and friends, even throwing dishes and food in my rage. I wanted mom to give me the answers about my adoption so I could fill in the missing piece.
Two years later, I received a registered letter from Cobourg Children’s Aid. Once more, when I opened the letter, I was disappointed. The names of my birth parents were missing. I was counselled by a Cobourg Social Worker, who explained that my adoption was a private one. My parents were probably someone I already knew. The Social Worker encouraged me to try and ask my mom about my birth parents again. I would probably have to wait a long time to get any information from Toronto. The thought of asking my mom again was the furthest thing from my mind. Mom had said no the first time I asked. At 32, I was still too afraid to challenge her authority.
Finally I decided if I wanted the information,  I would have to set aside my fears. I prepared to ask mom about my birth parents once again. I prayed about how to ask and when to ask my mom about my birth parents.
I decided to ask mom when we went down to celebrate Christmas and our wedding anniversary.  We ended up going down early for Christmas to help my mom as she had broken her ankle.
On our second anniversary,  I brought out the family photo albums, so that I could ask about my birth parents. As we poured over the albums together, I  mustered up the courage and prayed for the right timing about asking mom about my birth parents.
“ Mom, ” I asked gingerly, “could you please tell me how I came to be Margaret?” “Margaret!” Mom said with exasperation, “I have already told you about your birth parents!” I tried to ask another question,  but mom shut me down. “This is enough questions! I am tired and it is time to soak my foot.” she said, leaving the room. However, I kept persisting with my questions. Finally, my mom grew weary of my constant asking and said,”I have told your sister and she can tell you after I am gone!”
I had been put off by my mom too often and I blew up! I yelled at her, saying,”that is not fair! How can you tell my sister and not tell me! All the hurt and anger came roaring out. I even suggested that she loved my sister more than she loved me. Up until now I had always been hushed when I was angry, but not this time!
The next few moments that passed seemed like hours. The tension in the air was like a thick, heavy cloud. I feared whether mom and I would ever be close again after this blow up. Mom came and stood in the doorway and said,”Margaret,  you might think differently of your parents if I tell you.” “No, I won’t, mom. I need to know. Please tell me.” After another few moments of silence, my mom finally said matter of factly, “it is J. and H.”
J. and H. were my dad’s brother and his wife.
The story went that my birth parents were struggling financially and my mother’s nerves were not good. They were not married but engaged to be married. My birth mom was trying to hunt down her abusive first husband to file divorce papers. My birth mother’s father, my grandfather,  was going to adopt me but at the last minute, changed his mind. My birth father thought of his brother Clifford and asked if they would adopt me. A few days later, I was brought to live with my aunt and uncle, my adoptive parents. Not one person in the extended family knew about my adoption as my birth was kept hushed.
It hurts that people allowed pride to get in the way about my birth and beginnings. It hurts that the whole family kept the secret from me until I was 32 years old. It hurts that my birth parents kept my brother and sister but gave me away. It hurts that my birth mom would not tell my siblings about me.
Years later, I know that this is all behind me and for the most part, I have worked through my grief and anger.
I finish by saying that you can hide the truth and try to keep it hidden, but eventually, the truth  will ALWAYS come out.
This is my story about how I feel about being adopted. I hope it helps others to know it’s OK to speak out about your feelings. I hope that it brings some understanding and awareness to people who have no experience with the effects of adoption. Most of all, I hope it brings an end to the shame associated with adoption.
Margaret T.
Adult Adoptee

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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? – Kelley Marie

me-w-mom-and-dad
My Mom, Dad & I

BIO: My name is Kelley. I am a few short months away from being 30!  I am married and have three amazing kids. They are 10,7, and almost 3. About two years ago I left working in Pulmonary Critical Care to pursue being a stay at home mom. I realized while I loved helping people get better, and being my a families side to the end I missed my own family. We put all of our eggs in a basket and have never prayed harder. After leaving the hospital I scrolled across a grocery delivery company, I applied and here I am 1 year later! I delivered groceries part time for Shipt! I still get to help families and be in the car pick up line in time. God has truly blessed us. I love meeting fellow adoptees and was blessed to be able to during my public search. Family is everything for me. In free time I love to read and have a glass of wine. In the summer the beach is where you’ll find us all day! I am in Jacksonville, Fl and would love to connect to closer adoptees. If you’re nearby feel free to reach out!

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

The age old question, right?

Wrong.

 I will be 30 years old in just a few short months. I can honestly say I’ve never been asked this question. Adoption is one of the most beautiful things I have ever been a part of. Adoption is raw, and it’s real for everyone involved. Adoption is the part of my life that makes me.

From the moment I was born in the month of February my life was something I’d eventually see as my never ending story.  This a story I will probably never be able to finish, or ever gain full closure of, it’s a fact I live with and hope to accept one day. Here is a small glimpse below.

We all know what adoption is.

We all view it differently.

I personally was raised to glorify it; it is a miracle in my house. I was born in the middle of an era of very private adoptions, and people told to hush, and keep it quiet. Private adoptions were just that, private. Like a key tossed out of a moving car, sure you can go back days later and look but its most likely long gone. I think growing up this is the hardest thing I dealt with.

I better tell you a little about me. My name is Kelley. I was born in Goshen/Elkhart, Indiana. My adoption was immediate, as fast as you could move they moved! I was brought home a few months after I was born. When I came home I met the three most influential people in my life, ever. I was held by Sam, Becky, and Kevin. I was passed from family member to another around a room, I met many people that day that all would eventually play a role in my life. Kevin, my brother was adopted a few years prior to me, we have an unspoken bond though you could never tell growing up!! My parents became my best friends, and the two most hardworking honest people I know today. Between Kevin and I, I was the curious one. I remember always asking around my birthday to see my adoption papers, all two of them. Every year they were pulled out as if something else was going to pop out in big green letters telling me where I came from. My birthdays became clockwork for me. Some years were much harder than others. As I grew into my teen years more questions and feelings came about. I never felt ashamed for asking to see those papers, like I said it was clockwork. Growing up my life was amazing, I had everything and more I could’ve ever asked for. I came from a Christian home, went to one of the best private schools in the city, we ate promptly at 6 o’clock every night together as a family. I lived an American dream. You’d think growing up like this why bother asking questions, I literally had it all. Except, I didn’t have it all. What so many of us take for granted, is a small piece of paper, a little extra info.

I yearned for a real birth certificate, to know my history, did I have more siblings, more family.

For years I was able to search on my own. I started when I was younger, I think when google came about, I started looking up old city newspapers. I hired a company that was a total rip off. I took years off in between searches to gather composure. Two years ago, I was having breakfast with my Mom & Dad, I was about to be 28 in a few days. I looked at them and told them I was ready to move on, I wanted to give it one last shot and I was done. Heading into my early thirties I knew I needed closure, whether it be between myself and my birthmother without knowing who she really was, or actually facing her. I no longer yearned for information, I wanted to move on. I have no idea what came over me this time, I truly think it was God telling me it was time for some answers. I waited all my life for this. I had come to all dead ends previously. I saw some lucky outcomes with adoptees finding family online. I gave it a shot. I couldn’t have ever done this without my family blessings. We did this together. My best friends and I.  Mom checked the email we set up, we each interviewed all over the USA. Countless journalists, and radio personalities shared our journey, local and national news outlets. It took a very short 44 days total, she emailed me.

Yet, looking back no one has ever asked me “How does it feel to be adopted?”.  So to me personally, to feel adopted is the most overwhelming feeling. I feel pain. I am pained that so much of me is hidden and buried in another life. I feel anger. I am angry with the states for so many cover-ups, and obstacles. I feel sadness. Sadness for the loss of memories with so many family members I wasn’t able to meet, or share this experience with. I feel happy. I am happy I have a family, loyalty and passion. Most of all the feeling I feel most is love. I know that in my life I am loved. I was loved enough by a woman who knew the life she couldn’t provide, someone else could. I am loved by my family. I was a miracle; my adoption is a miracle. My adoption is my wide open wounds, my healed scars, my heart, and my story. As you finish reading a part of my life, I hope that wherever you are in yours you find peace, and happiness.

I know that it may be hard for you to move on, and find the light at the end of a long dark tunnel. I never thought I would find mine. Little did I know I didn’t need to look. My light held me to a nurse almost 30 years ago.

How does it feel to be adopted?

I feel blessed beyond measure.

“Love is fragile. And we’re not always it’s best caretakers. We just muddle through and do the best we can. And hope this fragile thing survives against all odds.”

I am always looking to connect with other adoptees. You can find me on FB under Kelley Marie. I live in Florida now, and there are no local groups for adoptees. My hope one day is to start a localized group in my city, not only for adoptees but birthmothers.

Adult Adoptee

Kelley Marie

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How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Rebecca Rud

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

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

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

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED? 

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

“We don’t know, she is adopted.”

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

Get the point?

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

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

Who was I?

Where did I come from?

Am I allergic to anything?

What’s my medical history?

Family history?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebecca Rud

Adult Adoptee

My Contact Info:

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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? – Bev Thompson

 

bev-i-read-ambassador-for-children
Bev- I Read Ambassador for Children

BIO: “As an adoptee – I write to break into my heart and the readers – then put the pieces back together again.” ~ Bev Thompson

 Her first memoir was learning where she lived and her telephone number, even though she never committed them to heart with total conviction. The zip code never seemed quite right. Always feeling like a tumbleweed, she blew East to NYC finishing grad school at NYU where she has taught Speech Communications for the last 22 years. A published writer and playwright, her play Prisoners was commissioned and produced Off-Broadway for The Year of The Child.

I’m No Secret from Ladies Mile – 17 Stories Up, a memoir anthology, gives us a glimpse into the first meeting with Bev’s biological mother and the difficult request – to put her identity into hiding again. – 

“Adoptees have a unique voice all their own; a life-long memoir worthy of telling.” ~ Bev Thompson

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

 

I’m No Secret

bev-thompson

 

September 7, 2013   by Bev Thompson

The day I had searched for had finally arrived as One Huge Blur! The details, that is, details like faces, or expressions, or smells, or voices, or anything I usually remember about a special day, that makes my sensory memories drift back. Like my hearing, that still to this day startles at icicles breaking from roof tops; or my palate revisiting from long ago, the salty and sweet of home-made peanut brittle and walnut fudge; my nose remembering the wax on my grade school floor, the bologna from my lunchbox, and the milk-stained rug I took out in kindergarten for nap time.

All I remember from that day is the secret that I couldn’t talk about. A secret I had uncovered and now had been asked to put into hiding – again.

******

I was less than 1-hour into what had taken me 33 years, 2 months, 7 days, and 8 hours to uncover. For 20 years that secret stalked and played with me as I pondered, revisited, dreamed, fantasized, agonized – over and over again. Thirteen years kept me seriously on edge sniffing out my secret and now that I had climbed out of the womb my sister and grandmother unexpectedly dropped by. Dropped into my drama like those characters do on soap operas and then leave everyone breathless with a cliffhanger.

“It’s my daughter, your sister, my mother, your grandmother on their way to a doctor’s appointment that just pulled up,” her eyes darted left then right signaling her concern

I didn’t have a chance to feel or think, instead I was instructed to follow a cover-up script cleverly crafted by my birth mother. Barely an hour since we had met for the first time, she was explaining away my presence – yet again.

“We worked together at the Capitol on the floor of the House in Jeff City and you stopped by to see how I’m doing. OK?” she pleaded.

“OK” was all I could reply, I think, as she rose to greet them, her food bag bouncing off the aluminum pole, the tubes trailing behind her silver hanger. I couldn’t very well argue the secret with a dying woman, now could I, with the body that had pushed me into life, feet first I might add.

I do remember one thing — that I said little — and then the blur. The room that was so clear when I entered had become cloudy and lifeless. I remember outlines of my grandmother, her height diminished by age and rather round. My sister present, but not really, was there more out of an obligation to transport her grandmother, my grandmother to her destination, with time to spare – time to kill.

When grandmother and sister faded away and we were alone again, 1-hour and 22 minutes approximately, my birth mother offered me a glass of sweet wine from her homegrown still. I don’t remember clinking glasses or even the glass in my hand, or what was said in response to what had just happened. I remember thinking how her sickness had made her thin and what was she thinking drinking wine in the morning – drinking wine at all.

I barely remember leaving, but I do remember the screen door, the door that separated us when I arrived, and her first response to seeing me through the mesh for the first time.

“You look just like him,” she said.

“May I come in?” I replied, hoping to enter, as if I were selling the latest vacuum cleaner, Bible, or Avon product door-to-door. No, I thought, I was selling my heart and soul.

******

I made a couple more trips through that screen door. I skied with my brother pulling me and waved to my birth mother as I rounded the cove on Lake of The Ozarks. A postcard shot as I sailed by on my slalom, the sun fading behind me. I have pictures of the sunny slalom ride fading into dusk as evidence that I did indeed have a long ride in time with the characters from the secret at the lake. We kept up the pretense even then, even after I met everyone. My birth mother’s husband knew about me from the beginning. He married my birth mother after I was out of the picture. I remember him pulling me aside in their living room and saying how he regretted he couldn’t see what I looked like. He had lost most of his vision to cataracts and diabetes and could only see shadows and outlines. We shared my secret in common, he the only cast member in this charade that seemed real.

******

Seven months later the phone rang over 1500 miles of airwaves in New Jersey. It was my brother, Bill. I was expecting that bad news was eminent, but to my surprise it was a bittersweet dialogue at best.

“I have always wanted another sister,” Bill said, “Mom told us.”

“How’s she doing?” Was all I could think to ask.

“She’s back in the hospital.” He said awkwardly not knowing what to expect from me, or the situation.

“Oh.” My mind registered that she was failing quickly and when could I arrange a flight out to see her, perhaps for the last time.

******

When I arrived at the hospital, my sister was there. Almost as soon as I arrived she found an excuse to leave. It was obvious even before the secret was out that she had an estranged relationship with her mother and I now had become the interloper, the competition. She had a son, Timmy, whose father was missing. Oh, how karma comes back to haunt the family line again and again, until someone changes the tragic flaw.

As she left the room a smile returned to my birth mother’s face. How was I? How was the flight into St Louis? How was it different than arriving in Kansas City?  Did I have a good drive in with Bill?

Yes, she was dying but I wanted my birth mother to do her part. The secret had grown to include the fact that I had found who I thought was my birth father. She had confirmed it on my last visit but had not been given the details of my recent meeting with him.

“He said you dated other people during that time and- – -” She cut me off propping herself up on what was left of her elbows and leaned into me, her thin fingers rested upon my wrist, fingers that were identical to mine, hands sleek and expressive always moving with thoughts of their own.

“He knows damn well who he is, and when I get outta here I’m going to call him and we will all have coffee together.” The color in her face had returned from anger, I suspected, rather than health.

“OK,” I replied, a word I could depend on, knowing that I didn’t want to get overly excited about something, anything, that may never happen. OK had been the story, the response to my life and in this moment I was “OK” with her asking for us to meet, if God granted her the extra time. And if we ever got there we may need something a bit stronger than a cup of coffee. Perhaps some of that wine from her still.

I knew she didn’t have much time left as we shuffled down the hall to the visitor’s waiting area in the hospital. Together, we greeted her sister, my aunt, and a few cousins and friends. I had the strangest sensation that her sister knew exactly who I was.  My birth mother never filled me in on who now knew, or who didn’t know about “the secret”, that blur, that always descended upon me when new characters entered the drama.

Whatever strength we both had left to give to our secret, I wanted my birth mother to be a part in making it right. I knew once she was gone, the truth would be tentative and shaky at best.

It would be hard to fill the divide of 33 years and 1500 miles once she left this earth.

Story above from the anthology: Ladies Mile ~ 17 Stories Up

Entire collection available with two additional stories by Bev Thompson at:

http://www.mcnallyjackson.com/bookmachine/ladies-mile-17-stories

About the Author

Bev Thompson

Two years ago, six busy New York City women added a new activity to their crowded calendars: Memoir Writing. Meeting around a big table, at a Fifth Avenue apartment in the historic Manhattan district called Ladies’ Mile, the six experienced many rich moments of awed recognition, hilarious laughter, and sympathetic tears. They realized that every one of them had something important to say—and wanted to invite readers into their varied and fascinating lives. As they continued writing, critiquing and honing their work, the idea of creating Ladies’ Mile 17 Stories Up was born!

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Bev Thompson

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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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