How do I feel about being adopted?
Lets change this around a little bit shall we? Imagine that your sitting across from me in a little out of the way café, and we are having a conversation about it. If you wouldn’t mind go get a cup of your favorite beverage and let me tell you a story.. The story is true.
The smell of pipe tobacco and sawdust tickles your nose as you look at the person across from you. A shock of silver white hair, eyes that see through you but accepts everything they see but tinged with a sadness that is hard to define, really broad shoulders tapering down to hands that you can’t tell where the scars start or the skin ends covering hands that look almost dainty until you see them envelop the glass of ice tea and you realize just how massive this guy is.
A sigh, barely audible, escapes just before an inhale. He resets his body as if needing the support of the bench seat as his voice starts to fill the empty space between you.
“I’ve been on this planet going on 5 decades now, and this is the first time that anyone has asked how I feel about being adopted. I have to tell you that my experiences aren’t what you would call special in any way. I think that it’s more common than most folks want to realize. I guess it’s due to the lack of being in tune with others. But we’ll get to that perhaps.”
Your startled by the fact that his voice is like a lullaby you once heard long long ago.
“ I fussed and fumed for a long time, (he paused) 35 maybe 40 years until I got to a place where I can speak of this and to this subject. Bear in mind that I cannot nor will I separate my Spiritual journey from this subject.”
He chuckled as if this was some sort of private joke. He took another swig from his ice tea before he continued.
“I guess I need to give you something to call me by. Kelly will work. I’m not native to this neck of the woods but I got tired of snow and cold so I moved to the valley of the sun here in Arizona. Perhaps there is some genetic memory or something, I really can’t say for sure but when you have to question everything growing up it’s good training for being open to finding your own truth.”
“ For me, oh mercy, where do I start? I will start at the beginning but remember that this is hindsight and I have done a great deal of work on healing. Don’t get the wrong impression” he said wryly “ I had lots of help from Spirit.”
“ I was born in the typical way in the month of May, but before I drew my first breath I almost didn’t get here. My birth mother, lets call her Sue, had thought really hard and long about aborting me. Now I know that there are some people who will find this a bit uncomfortable but at least in my case that thought was transmitted to me in the womb. The beings on the other side that look out for me, they caused her to to change her mind. I know that to the western rational mind that is a rather bold statement but in the tradition that I have been called to follow that makes perfect sense. I spent 3 months with Sue, and then from promptings from Spirit (which I use as a catch-all term) I was given up to what would be called child services today. There was a series of caregivers that I went through until I was placed with the adoptive family, at 9 months of age.”
“Bonding issues is a way to put it mildly. Emotionally I was handicapped. Here I was, a small child needing to bond with some adult. I mean we are wired from birth to attach to a caring adult but politics and adult stupidity colluded to prevent that in my case. One thing that I feel that I need to mention is this. Sometimes events that have transpired get looked at through the lens of what should have been. Our wishes, our dreams, our ideas of what should have, could have, etc. change and twist the memory causing us much emotional pain. As such what is really real and what isn’t? Or is it all perception?
Kelly stopped to motion to the waitress for a refill. As he continued..
“Here is a question for you. If you knew that if you had stayed with the birth family, you would either be dead, a raging addict or incarcerated for the rest of your life, what would you pick?”
He waited till the waitress was done with the refill to continue.
“I can see the confusion on your face. It’s alright but I hope you can see that depending on your point of view certain aspects of a event can change. The family dynamic amongst Sue’s family wasn’t healthy. Very self destructive and very much in denial. Yes I did the whole reunion thing with the surviving members of Sue’s family but that didn’t end well. H’m, let me explain it this way. If you play a note on a piano and someone else plays another note that is not in harmony with your note what happens? Sooner than later someone will either change their note or someone will leave. That makes sense doesn’t it? My note was one of healing and of becoming the person that I have been called to be this round. Another part of it was that there wasn’t any type of recognition of clan or of family. I have come to the conclusion that family means more than just a blood relationship or the sharing of genetic material. I mean really, what is family? What is a clan? What is the thing that ties people together? “
Kelly paused a beat before continuing.
“My biological father is a black hole. He supposedly was a trucker and older than Sue, and he also had heart problems. The story goes that he passed shortly after I was conceived. That’s the thing about stories, how much is true and how much is myth? Are we bound by the stories we believe or if we change the story does that also mean that our bonds are released so that we can heal?”
“The family that I was placed with was, well, extremely blue collar.” He chuckled. ” They had a family dairy farm within a 45 minute drive of where Sue was living at the time. Yeah I know! Who would have thought that when the story that was told to the adoptive family was that I was the result of a young couple from a different state that couldn’t afford to keep me. As one could imagine that was really hurtful to me as a child. So the emotional maelstrom I endured was quite extreme. There I was, basically alone in the world, not knowing how to process the emotions of not supposed to be alive coupled with the story of being not worth keeping and add in abandonment scripts from Sue and the caregivers when I was in CPS. Holy Crap, you know?
I need to add this in here so you can gain a better sense of what is to come. If you can see a different color than others how would you tell them? If you can hear things that others can’t, how would you describe it to others? I don’t know if you have ever watched a show called Psychic Kids but that is / was me to a tee. However, the adoptive family didn’t have a clue. They were firmly entrenched into the dogma that Old Scratch was behind every rock and every bush doing everything to screw us up so that way the old dude with the white hair in the sky could hammer the living hell out of you because you screwed up and made a mistake. Guilt and self condemnation was a way of life. That was force fed to me to a point where I was actually told that I was the son of Old Scratch, that I was damned to spend a eternity in hellfire. Want to talk about having to deny a part of your very own self? Sheesh. I can now look at it for what it was. A very wise person once told it to me this way. “Most formal anything isn’t about freedom or what is best for the people, it’s about control. Dogma comes in many forms but it’s still about control. In your adoptive parents case, they were repeating the dogma that they had been force fed. It takes a special person to break free of those chains. You need to do that because it’s YOUR life, it’s YOUR path, it’s YOUR turn to be free”.
” There was a attachment on my part to the adoptive father. Not that it was the most beneficial to me. Rather that it was an attachment. Let me say that I know that they did love me in their own way. With the dogma, the alienation, and the not having a sense of really belonging, it was a very very dark place for me. But even with the denying of self, Spirit didn’t give up on me. There was always a person that would be there to help just enough to keep myself from going over completely to the dark side, to use a movie term even if they did have cookies. I spent most of my free time alone in nature because it was less painful than dealing with the people that could not see how their demands of how I was supposed to be, that would tell me of how I was supposed to feel, how I was supposed to act, how I was supposed to think and what I was supposed to believe, would lay on me the weight of their own issues.”
He motions to the waitress once again.
” As I was surviving this, in the year I turned 14, the adoptive father passed from a traffic accident. He passed suddenly and violently. This event while sad also triggered something else that came later that year which I will get to in a moment. His passing made me very very angry. Not just the type of anger that burns out after a time, it was a rage that was always seemed like it was always there. Imagine that you are so damaged emotionally that you use rage to get out of bed in the morning. You use rage to get through the day. That if you didn’t bank the rage and use it, you would kill yourself because of the pain. Emotional pain that was so intense that it almost crippled me. I even tried doing the Vulcan thing and relied on logic. That didn’t go to well. At least I was trying though, I was trying to survive, even though I didn’t have a clue what that meant actually. “
“I developed shield around my emotions so that way I wouldn’t be hurt again yet at the same time I was so desperate for connection to another, ah the paradox of being human. The thought of suicide was ever present till a funny thing happened to me that changed me entirely.”
He paused as the waitress refilled his glass, with extra ice this time.
” What I am about to describe may not fit within the framework of any official religion but this is what transpired. It was a warm spring day, I was sitting under a old elm tree facing south. The sunlight was dancing through the leaves as the they sang the whispers of song from the breeze passing through them. Fluffy clouds floated stately past on their way to their destination. My gaze was at nothing at all and everything all at the same time. I suddenly found that my awareness was now part of the tree that I was leaning against. I then could feel the earth in it’s spin, and my awareness continued to expand until I was part of everything that there is. I danced with the Universe that day and the song I heard on that day, ( he paused while wiping the tears from his eyes as he smiled wistfully. This was a true bittersweet memory ) reverberates through my bones, my very being to this day.”
He continued ” I know that sounds really strange but there is a history among what one could call mystics throughout the world, spanning many centuries describing something along these lines.” That did take care of the suicide thought pattern but didn’t help with, well, all the pain and alone-ness, the not belonging-ness, the emotion of being rejected” he chuckled wryly. “And then I found alcohol. Which was a short term fix for all the emotions that were boiling through me. I spent a great deal of time either recovering from a drinking bout or planning to drink or drinking from that point on. I have to say though that I haven’t been drunk or even tipsy in twenty years because learning the hard way on many things a person is forced to learn. Eventually.”
He toyed with his glass for a moment and his voice became very soft and his eyes were looking into something that was beyond. ” The year I graduated high school, in the spring, I had a overwhelming urge to attempt to find my biological mother. That was the year that she died. I guess that she wasn’t able to hang in until we could meet. I do have a sister out there somewhere. We communicated off and on, but again there still wasn’t any recognition of clan or of family. How is that for some kind of message?” He shook himself like he had a chill run up his spine and his tone returned to the same lullaby as it was prior. “I had to find my own path to people that I would say to be family. I have been married three times now. This last one has been the longest lasting. Working on 18 years now (he stated as a smile played tag along his lips) I do have a daughter from a prior marriage who is doing really well. I am very proud of her and the woman she is and see a very bright path for her as she goes forward.
The waitress that had been providing him with refills started walking out in street clothes. He fished a 10 spot out of his shirt pocket and stuck his arm out to make sure that she knew it was for her. A smile broke open on the waitresses face as she took the bill because it was folded in such a manner that it looked like a bow tie and as she glanced at the amount her smile grew even larger. She stopped and looked at this man, gratitude filling her eyes. He smiled and tipped his head to show that he was thankful of her service. He noticed your gaze and simply said: “Paying it forward” as he settled his mass back into the seat.
“Anna has had it rough lately so I help out. The money isn’t the issue, it’s that she won’t allow others to help her that much. I can relate for I did that for a very long time myself. Then I finally got woken up. You know it’s hard to carry a buddy with a broken leg if you have one yourself. Call it a meme to remember to take care of yourself while your taking care of others.
He turned his head and caught the eye of Anna’s replacement, a waiter with the name tag of Bagel pinned proudly to the front of his shirt. He raised his now empty glass and Bagel was on the way with the pitcher of ice tea. Kelly said “Thanks Bagel, how have you been?” with such caring in his voice that you wondered if Bagel was a close friend. Bagel filled the glass while glancing down and away as if he was to shy to speak. Kelly waited a beat and then added “If you want to talk to me later that’s fine, just let me know ok?” Bagel nodded and hurried off. Kelly caught your expression from the corner of his eye and turned to face you once again. “Bagel is good people he’s having a little problem with becoming the who that he is without all the crap he was force fed when he was younger. But I better finish my story since people can only listen for as long as their butts can stand.”
Half the glass of iced tea disappeared in an instant as he settled once again.
“ After the marriage to my daughter’s mother was over there were some things that I thought that needed checked out on my daughter for medical and emotional issues since she was about 3 or 4 when her mother left. I wanted to make sure that she didn’t get the idea that her mother leaving was in any way, shape, manner or form her fault. That’s typical of kids to take the blame of other people’s actions when in reality they had nothing to do with it. They are innocent bystanders that get caught in the crossfire as it were. All of us need to remember that. Not only if you have children but also for ourselves. The therapist then hit me with that meme of the broken leg. So I started to have some self care for once in my life and I have never stopped .”
His eyes narrowed slightly as if he was deciding on what to say next. They widened as he continued.
“I had to make a choice. I had to choose between the status quo or to venture into areas that at the time were unfamiliar to me. Sometimes we base the who we are on what we have experienced whether that’s pain or being victimized or whatever. It’s hard at times to hold on to the idea that there may be a better way. Let me tell you that in my case I had to choose between the polarity of light and dark or to accept both equally. “ A sigh escaped as he paused. “I have done much work on myself. I have done re-framing, retelling, hypnotherapy, meditations and symbolism work. Getting to the point of being able to change the point of view of memories as they are remembered helps a great deal. I’ve also done inner child work within the path that has chosen me. It’s very powerful to have adult self meet and comfort the child self. However, as each of us is unique so to shall be our paths. For me, now at this moment, there are still ghosts of memories past brought forth from time to time. Telling you this, my story, has allowed me to face and defeat many, so that they will no longer haunt me again. I can look at the people involved and see the results of the unseen hand that has brought me to this point. This point is beyond anything I could have imagined even a couple of years ago. You might say that there is a conspiracy by Spirit to give me what I need as long as I am open to it.”
Kelly paused as Bagel refilled his glass that somehow became empty without you noticing.
“I know that I have much left to do on myself but now , I am not alone any longer. I have “family” that accept me as I am and are hopeful for my future. We help each other, not due to duty or of some misbegotten and perverted sense of responsibility but because we truly care for each other. We help each other when needful. Yes, my darling wife of 18 years is part of it but there are others, not related by blood but, let’s say by Spirit. With their help and support I have been able to be thankful for the lessons and all the experiences this life and my path has given me. I am the person that I am now because of everything that I have been through. Yes, some has been hell on earth. Some has been the most sublime experiences that I have had the good fortune to be here for.”
As he stirred you are wondering if this storyteller was going to finish.
“ Thank you” he said sincerely. “If you would like to talk again I would be happy to do so. May peace be with you” Meaning every word without reservation.
Your gaze follows this bear of a man as he is paying for the seemingly gallons of iced tea and giving Bagel a tip, you see Bagel with a genuine smile as he works the cash register.
You find yourself very glad that you came.
My thanks for reading my story.
Kelly Drummaker, Adult Adoptee
Valley of the sun AZ