Adoptees


Wraith has written an excellent post that I wish every potential adoptive parent would read. Check it out!

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Sorry about the last post. Too little sleep combined with an overwhelming work load will do that to you!

I am a person with issues. Some of them are related to my being adopted. Some of them are related to my brother calling me “big toe” and “bony butt”. Just guessing here, but I bet that anyone reading this has their own set of issues. I am fortunate that my “issues” are small and manageable. Other people do not have that luxury. My issues are petty when compared with the issues of people who have had to deal with true hardships. Potential adoptive parents often ask if they should even consider adopting because adult adoptees seem to have so many issues related to the adoption. So what. Don’t potential adoptive parents have their own issues, say maybe one or two related to infertility. I am not trying to sound harsh towards adoptive parents, truly I am not. I just think that some people miss the point.  The issue is not whether or not the child will have issues, the issue is whether or not the parents are willing to acknowledge and openly deal with any issues that do, and will, arise. Just as they would when their biological child had issues to deal with in their life. Issues are simply a part of life. You just deal with your own unique set of issues.

Thanksgiving is often a time of reflection. What things in your life are you thankful for? I AM TRULY thankful that my birthmother chose adoption for me. Why is gratefulness by an adoptee often viewed as a bad thing? I have so much admiration and respect for my birthmother’s willingness to make that decision. She was already parenting a son and she knew that she was not doing right by him. My brother has told me stories about his childhood with her. About the times when he could barely get her to wake up because she had ingested some substance. About the times when he was very young and he was left outside playing alone in the dark while she was in a room with a boy with the door shut. He has many similar stories. My brother has struggled most of his life. Much of that is because of the parenting that he received. He is trying to decide what path he wants to take in his life. For the first time in his life, he is thinking of long term goals. He knows that he has wasted away more than 10 years by abusing drugs and alcohol. He has struggled with relationships. I know that my fate could have been the same, but it wasn’t because my birthmother made such a huge sacrifice. I love my life. I can’t imagine life without my wonderful husband and my 4 precious boys. So yes, I am thankful that I am adopted. And yet…. I am still so envious that my brother knew, really knew my birthmother. He knew her smell, her voice, and her laughter. It pains me at times to know that he knew her touch, her hugs, her kisses. There it is, the but. I am thankful but… It does not make me any less “grateful”, but oh how I wish I could have known her, talked to her, TOUCHED her. The feel of her arms around me would be heaven. I wish I knew if she ever held me. Her touch, that is what I grieve the most. I so wish she could know my boys, my treasures. I wish I could know her personality, not just hear what she was like but truly know her. I wish, I wish. But….since she is dead, it will never be. Thankful, but….

I remember that I was around 5 1/2 years old when I began to have unexplained medical problems. I remember doctor appointments and even staying overnight in the hospital for testing. I even remember some of the testing that was done. My mom has told me that they were sent to a therapist. He thought that I might be having some attachment problems. A potential problem that my mother promptly dismissed. She has told me many times about how dumb the therapist was. I know that the problems persisted for at least 6 months before they finally went away. It was cold when it started and I remember the testing continuing on at least through the summer. The cause was never found, but I have found it now. Adoption was causing my problem. I attended an excellent seminar last week. The seminar focused on attachment, grief in children, and the mind-body connection. It was wonderful! The speaker was discussing how children grieve anew throughout different developmental levels. She pointed out the fact that around the age of 6 children begin to understand the concept of subtraction. Children get the concept of addition earlier than that. In other words, children suddenly are able to understand (although they are not able to verbalize their thoughts and feelings) that not only did their adoptive family welcome them into the family but that someone gave them away. Often adoptees around this age will have behavioral changes and even unexplained physical ailments. A-ha! Thirty years of wondering solved with a simple statement. Relief! The presenter went on to stress how important it is for adoptive parents to help the child process the grief at the different developmental levels. I am not upset with my parents for not helping me understand what was going on at the time. How could they help me when they did not know. They were busy doing what the “experts” at the time were teaching them to do. It is amazing how liberating knowledge is.

Sorry for the long drought of posts. We just got back from a long vacation.

I remember driving with my husband to the town that I was born in to attend a wedding of a friend. I was born in a very “country” town and my husband liked to tease me in a very loving way about my “hick” roots. As we were driving into town, a tall, run-down building loomed on the horizon. My husband joked that I was probably born in that building. We stopped laughing when we got closer and realized that I had been born in that building. It was strange to see the last place that I was with my birthmother. I would love to go and walk the halls. I want to stand in the spot that we were last together. It will never happen.

This day, this most emotional day, I am driving with my brother into the town of our births. I used to come to this town fairly frequently as a child. My grandfather was a preacher and he preached in this town. I would visit my grandparents during the summer and Sundays and Wednesday nights were spent in this town. I vividly remember that during these visits I would look out at the rooftops and wonder if my birthmother was out there somewhere. By the time I was doing that, she was already deceased, but my birth grandfather was just blocks away. The house that June grew up in and lived in was just blocks away. My brother took me to that house. It was so odd to be looking at the house that my birthmother lived in for almost her entire life. My brother shared with me his memories from the past. They were so important for me to hear. They helped me piece together a picture of what June was like and what her life was like. He told me the story of when he tried to karate chop the window. Bleeding profusely, he tried to hide the evidence. Like no one would notice his bright red, bleeding foot. He told me about going to parties with June, definitely not the best place for a child. He learned how to cuss and he drank beer. He told me about the time that he and his grandfather had a hard time waking June up. He later figured out that she was under the influence of drugs at the time. He also told me about her fun-loving side and her free spirit. He remembers when she took him to the grand opening of the McDonalds in town. He remembers when they were in a car wreck. She was so worried about him. He recalls that she let him pick out their new car. He tells me about how much he loved his grandfather. Our grandfather died in the late 80’s. He does not really remember his grandmother, she died when he was 3.

We bought a couple of simple flowers. We then made the journey to her grave. It took my brother a while to find it because he had not visited her grave for years. It was a jolting feeling to see her name on the stone. We left the flowers on her grave. I remember that I later cried and cried about her death while my husband just held me. After visiting her grave, we stopped for lunch at a cafe that my brother used to eat at with our mother. There we saw his paternal grandmother. They are not close. She did not know of my existence, although she had heard rumors. That made me feel bad for June. Who wants rumors to be going around about them? We later went to her house to visit for a while. I left feeling that she was a horrible, horrible person – very shallow, racist, and narcissist. I could see why my brother did not desire to have a relationship with her. She talked him into going to visit his dad, which we did. His father also did not know of my existence. He looked at me very strangely – I know it was because I strongly resemble June. We then went driving around town. My brother was remembering June’s best friend who lived in a house covered in hubcaps. Right after we talked about that, we drove past a house covered in hubcaps. We went to the door and June’s best friend’s mother answered the door. We had a wonderful talk. She was a lovely woman, until the end of the visit when she spewed racism. My brother and I still talk about that. She did give me the phone number and address of her daughter so that I could contact her in the future.

My brother and I headed back to my house soon after that. That night was a pivotal night in my relationship with my parents. I stupidly thought that I should be open and honest about everything. I was making plans to go to visit my brother in the next week or two. I shared that information with my parents. BIG, HUGE, GIGANTIC mistake. We had the worst blow-up of our relationship. It still hurts my soul eleven years after the fact. The gist of it was that they were not happy that I was meeting my biological relatives. They made some very hurtful comments. The one that really bothered me was they said that I was making the same bad decisions that my birthmother made and she ended up dead. It was a horrible “conversation”. They also dragged my husband right into the middle of it. My brother saw what was going on, and it made him feel bad which made me feel even worse. What still upsets me to this day is that my parents were given the opportunity to support me, love me, and be there for me and instead they chose to only think of themselves and to push me away. I had brought up searching before and they had never been supportive so I do not know why I expected it then. It affects our relationship to this very day. Here I was emotional, grieving, and trying to make sense of all the information I was receiving and they made the choice to not be there for me. Painful.

Today was the day I was going to meet a biological relative, my brother!! I could not believe that I was actually going to see with my own bluish-green eyes a blood relative. I remember stressing about what to wear, but I don’t remember what I did wear. I remember it was cloudy and overcast. My husband and I drove to the bus station to pick my brother up. We drove up in my husband’s car. I could not stand that car. It was an older model, 4-door, Oldsmobile. It always reeked of gas and it “floated” on the road. It was so very ugly. I did not want anything ugly on this day. I cared about the impression that I was going to make on my brother. I wanted him to see how well I had turned out. In the end, it really didn’t matter. He was just thankful to meet me and to know me. I remember seeing him for the first time. He had very long, blonde hair. He was a musician and the long hair was a part of his image. We hugged, no tears then. What a strange sensation to be hugging someone who was really related to me. He could not stop looking at me. He finally told me how strange it was for him to see someone who looked like his mother. She was not much older at her death than I was at the time that I met my brother. I guess we looked like siblings, but the similarities were not striking. We do share very similar eyes. We stayed up until the early hours of the morning just talking. He told me about my grandparents and about other relatives. I spent a lot of time trying to sort out who was related to whom. My grandfather was married to another woman before he was married to my grandmother. His first marriage produced a son, L. L grew up, married, and proceeded to have 3 boys. The same time that L was starting his life, my grandfather and his first wife were divorcing. My grandfather later married my grandmother and they had my birthmother, J. Because of the large age difference between J and L, she was the same age as her nephews. She was very close to her nephews and to L. By all accounts, J was very treasured and very spoiled by my grandparents. They loved her dearly and they probably did let her get away with too many things. J became pregnant with my brother while she was still in high school. She married my brother’s father. Later, she went back to school and earned her degree. After her marriage ended, she moved back in with her parents. Then one December she became pregnant with me. Her mother became very sick and died a month later. Her father was very old and not financially well off. She was struggling to care for my brother and did not know how she could give me what I deserved. She placed me for adoption. He had just turned 3 when I was placed. He does not have any memories of that time. I wanted him to remember things about her and that time. I really needed to know that she was sad. Not that I wished her any pain, I just wanted to know that it was not easy for her and that she did love me. Oh, how I wanted to talk to her. How can it be that I can never, ever, ever talk to her? After my birth, J continued to live with my grandfather. She did go to school and while there she earned her LVN. Unfortunately, she could not hold a nursing job because she had a drug problem and she kept getting caught stealing drugs. She was driving home one night around 2 in the morning when her car broke down and she was murdered. I was 5 and D was 8. This happened in a February. D lived the rest of the school year with our grandfather. Our grandfather was elderly and almost completely blind. He could not properly care for D, even though he wanted to very badly. One of J’s nephews who was married and had a son took D into their home. Our grandfather was very upset about that, but he honestly could not care for D. D does not remember a lot of things between the age of 8 and the age of 16 (when he was told about my existence). He was raised by T and C. They provided him with a good and loving home. They had 3 sons and they always treated D just like one of their sons. But it was very difficult for D in many ways. For one thing, his personality is so different from everyone he was around. He is nothing like his “brothers”. He also left a household with no rules and entered a household with a lot of rules. He had the pain of trying to process his mother’s death while enduring so many radical and difficult changes in his life. He made a few wrong choices, he drifted a lot with no direction. He graduated high school and took some college classes, but he had no focus and no drive. He went to counseling and the counselor happened to know someone who worked at the agency that facilitated my adoption. That connection is what led to the letter which led us to each other. I went to bed that night but I had a very hard time sleeping. I still could not believe how quickly all of this happened. I was in awe of the fact that my real flesh and blood brother was sleeping in the bedroom right next to me. So strange but so wonderful. The next day was one of the most emotional days of my life. I can still feel the emotions inside of my chest and it has been 11 years.

I cannot describe the anxiety and the excitement that I felt the first time I called my brother. I was shaking and pacing and fidgeting. It was awful and wonderful all at the same time. I called, and he answered. I explained who I was and he was caught off guard. He had just requested the information a few days before and here I was calling. It was awkward at first because what do you say? The first thing I wanted to know was whether or not he was raised by my birthmother? He told me how odd it was to be talking to me about this because I was the first person he was telling this story to who would really care. He then proceeded to tell me about my birthmother. He was raised by her until he was 8 years old. She was married to his father for a while but they divorced. My brother, D, had very little contact with his father after that (his father had a wreck and was never quite right after that). I came along after the divorce. D did not know about me until much later. After the divorce, he lived with his mother (our mother) and his grandfather until he was 8 years old. One night, my birthmother was driving home late when she experienced car trouble. Her body was found the next morning. She was brutally murdered. Wow! This was a punch in my gut. She was dead! She was young when she had me so I never dreamed that she would be dead. Dead, I could not even grasp that concept at first. How could I meet her and find out about her? How could I let her know that I was okay? How could I show her who I had become? I really did not feel a lot of emotions at this time, just shock. Everything that I had envisioned in my head was gone just like that – POOF! I wanted to know her NAME; he had forgotten to tell me. Finally, I knew the name of my birthmother. That was a strange feeling. D told me that he went to live with cousins for the rest of his childhood. I don’t remember a lot about the rest of the conversation. He did want to come meet me and of course I said, “Yes”. He was going to try to make arrangements to come the following weekend. That evening my husband and I were babysitting my year old nephew. We loaded him up in the car and went to the local library to look up archived newspaper articles about her murder (her murder happened in the same town I was living in). We started looking through the old newspaper films when my nephew got very loud (he was a bullhorn baby). My husband took him outside while I continued to look. I found it! And there was a picture. And the picture looked just like me!!! For the first time in my life I was looking at a picture of someone who looked like me. It was so strange. It was also so hard to read about how she had died. It was awful to think about her last moments. D had told me that he did not believe that she was dead at first because he distinctly remembers her coming in and giving him a kiss early that morning. I have often wondered if maybe her spirit did give him a kiss. I gathered up my copies and left the library. The pictures were shocking to my husband. She really looked a lot like me. I must have read those articles and looked at the picture a thousand times over the next few days. This is also the time that I made the biggest mistake of this process. I thought that it would be best to be completely open and honest with my parents about everything then they could go through this with me. Pause for hysterical laughter. I will write more about this later because it still hurts me deeply. D called and we made arrangements to meet. I was going to meet my brother!!

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