Adopted Part One

I am adopted.

I've always known. I don't remember my parents ever telling me, it was just something that was always talked about....how my family came to be. They adopted my brother, then three years later Wendy was adopted. She tragically died of SIDS and then they adopted me. I grew up being told that my birth mother was very young and loved me so much that she wanted me to have a better life. I grew up knowing that her giving me up was an act of love and sacrifice and that I was in the family that I was meant to be a part of.  I never felt like this wasn't my real family. It always offended me when people would imply our family was not real because we did not share DNA.

Growing up I'd sometimes meet women who I really clicked with who were around what I thought her age was and sometimes I'd fantasize they were my birth mother.

I was always curious but also reluctant to search for her. I carried papers around from the adoption agency for 10 years that I could turn in and if she had also turned in papers they would match us up and exchange our information. I carried it around for years and couldn't turn it in. What if I turned the papers in and she did not? Could I handle the disappointment?

I had fears and hopes surrounding meeting my birth mother one day. I feared she would be heroin addicted train wreck and that she would create chaos in my life. As a psychology major I was riddled with fears she was schizophrenic or bipolar and I would be doomed to the same fate.

I hoped she would be another me, someone from my tribe, that we would instantly click. I dreamed of a close relationship but never really a mother/daughter relationship, because I have an amazing mother already. I hoped she would be like an older sister or aunt type person in my life.  I hoped she would have had other children...other girls specifically so I could have a sister or two.

I met my birth mom when I was 28 or so. She is 16 years older than me. She is nothing like me.

My birth mother is an introvert, owns tools and knows how to use them, hunts, fishes, doesn't like swimming really. My parents had her over so she could meet them. My mom sat across from her and I and noticed that we have many of the same mannerisms. But that seemed to me to be where the similarities ended.


When I met her one of the first questions I asked was about mental illness running in the family, which fortunately it did not. Then I asked about my birth father. The adoption agency had told my parents he was part Native American. I grew up believing that, wondering what tribe, how much of my blood was was Native American, things like that. I remember she and I were walking on the beach when I asked her and she told me that his name was Rick. He was some white guy in the Coast Guard. She told me that she was at a party and he raped her.

He

raped

her.

I am a product of rape.

It felt like a horse had kicked me in my gut to hear that I am in this world because of an act of violence. Knowing what I know about personality and how much is biologically based I was floored. Because I seemed to not have inherited any of her personality traits, I concluded that most of my personality came from him....from a rapist.

This has been a heavy cross to bear.

Fast forward to late January/early February 2016.

I learned from her sister that she had cancer. I reached out to her, called and left a voicemail but didn't hear back. Then I sent her a card two weeks ago. I expressed my regret at not doing a better job forging a relationship with her. I told her I loved her. I told her that I've always been grateful that she carried me and put me up for adoption in hopes that I would have a better life. I reassured her I have had a beautiful life full of love beginning with her act of love 43.5 years ago. I asked if I could see her but told her that I would understand if she was unwilling or uncomfortable with that.

Yesterday I got a call from my aunt saying she was in the hospital....she would like to see me.

This morning I walked into a hospital room and saw her for the first time in many years. Had it not been for the name on the door I would have thought I went into the wrong room. It seemed impossible that the tiny woman on the bed was my 60 year old birth mom. The physical effects of the cancer on her appearance were shocking. We talked a little, but mostly I just sat and kept her company while she watched animal shows on television. Her sister came. The doctor came in and answered some of her questions. I followed him out into the hall and learned that she doesn't have long...maybe the new treatment will buy her a couple of months.

I walked down the hall with tears falling down my face....feeling regret for not being a better daughter....for never going on that camping trip we talked about....for letting my feelings of awkwardness get in the way of getting to know her while I had the chance. I cried for the lost opportunity. I cried for her thinking of how terrifying it must be, how alone she must feel.

I pulled it together and went back into the room. Some time later my aunt asked my birth mom if she had said the things to me she had wanted to. I held my breath for a moment wondering if she would tell me that I'd been a terrible daughter, that I had disappointed her. Then my aunt added....about the father.

Then the nurse came in and went about her work checking vital signs, giving more meds.

It felt like 30 minutes passed until the nurse was gone and my birth mom quietly said she had been going through old picture albums and saw a photo of her old friend. She described him as a really nice guy. She noticed how much he looked like my son. She said it could be him. He could be my birth father. She said that after she lost her virginity in such a terrible way that she felt like nothing. She slept with a lot of guys, but she thinks it could be this guy. This really nice guy. She said she has been in contact with him on Facebook. She told him they might have something in common but didn't say more. She gave me his name.

I pulled up his Facebook and stared at his photos searching for a resemblance, hoping for one. Hoping I came from a nice guy.

I sent a message.

And now I wait.

















Comments

  1. I cannot begin to fathom what this process is like for you. This is so much to take in all at once, her sickness and this possible nice guy father. You are such a strong and brave warrior. I am deeply proud of you, my love. I will hold your hand through this, I will have your back, and through it all I will love you fiercely as I watch you garner the warrior robe. You've got this. I love you over the moon.

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  2. I hear strong tones of gratitude in the same breath as heart ache. Adoption and alternative families are many times what they need to be rather than what is expected. I love love love your embrace of what the universe is providing.

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