We do not always see down the road of our life’s journey far enough to know where our decisions will leave us. When I left my daughter temporarily with her paternal grandmother, I did not intend for her to be raised by her father and step-mother and to never live with me permanently again. When my maternal grandmother sought temporary care for my mom at Porter-Leath Orphanage she did not intend to fall into Georgia Tann’s trap and lose my mom.
At first, it was a joy to discover who my original grandparents were. Both of my parents were adoptees and they each died knowing next to nothing (just a few names) about their origins. Because of the Georgia Tann scandal, Tennessee turned my mom’s adoption file over to me in October 2017. Suddenly, doors opened for me all the way down both lines and within a year, I knew who all 4 of my original grandparents were and for the first time in over 60 years of living, not only felt whole but had real genetic relations.
What I was not prepared for was how that would ultimately make me feel. How do I feel now ? Like a total outsider. The people I grew up with are not related to me. Oh I am glad my parents were treated well. It may be that their lives were easier for having been adopted. I loved my grandparents through adoption very much and deeply appreciated aunts, uncle and cousins. Yet, learning the truth of my origins has unexpectedly diminished all of them for me.
I am full of joy for the genetic relations I have uncovered and they have helped me know my original grandparents’ lives better than I would have otherwise. I do feel an honest connection to each of them. However, I have no life experience with these people. That leaves me feeling again like an outsider. They are all very kind and welcoming but knowing me is not really a priority in their own lives. I understand. I go slowly and attempt to build relationships over time through the sharing of some experiences. It is so late in life for me that it won’t be huge but it is something.
This is what adoption does to us. It shatters our families and I had no idea when I embarked on this new journey that I would feel today the way I do.