Believe it or not, it happens . . . a person can live decades and not know that they were adopted. Some stories . . .
You are at your Dad’s funeral, when two of his sisters corner you. They want you to return an heirloom that came to you from your grandma, “so it can stay in the family.” Huh ?
Your uncle’s wife wants your Mom’s mother’s and sisters’ jewelry for her daughter because “she’s actually a family member.” Wow.
A sister tells you to return a picture of her grandma because the woman wasn’t your “real” grandma. Ouch.
They leave your name off the obituary. Or at your grandfather’s funeral your grandmother’s 3 sons (who he adopted) are asked to sit behind the other family members because “they aren’t his real kids.”
One woman at the age of 48 reveals, “I was at my uncle’s funeral when my cousin’s husband wandered up to me and said, ‘I’ve been wanting to meet you, because we’re both adopted.’ It was a huge shock – how could it not be ? On the other hand, I had an instant explanation as to why I’d always felt like a square peg in a round hole, when it came to my family. I once said to my mother, ‘I’ve always felt like I was found on a doorstep.’ She got terribly upset. I later learned that she had confided in my cousin’s husband because he’s a minister. She had assumed he’d keep it a secret.”
And maybe not funny but I actually thought my dad (who was adopted) had been left on the doorstep of the Salvation Army by a Mexican woman because his mother’s name was Dolores and he was adopted in El Paso TX. Oh, the stories we make up when we don’t know the truth. It really isn’t right.
Another woman at the age of 36, right in the middle of a divorce with her house being repossessed, was going back to a university for advanced education and so, she was asked to bring in her birth certificate. Under pressure, her mom gave her a piece of paper and she took this to the university office. The administrator looked at her and said, “This isn’t your birth certificate.” The shocked expression on her face must have said it all. The administrator explained, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but it’s your adoption certificate.” The woman says, “I felt sick. My whole life had been a lie.”
One man found out he was adopted at the age of 60 when this happened –
“My wife and I were in a local garden center when I spotted the daughter of my mom’s next-door neighbor. She was with a little girl, who she introduced as one of her three grandchildren. The other two, she explained, were adopted from Vietnam. She turned to the girl and said, ‘This man was adopted too.’ My wife and I looked around to see who she was talking about. She felt awful – she thought I knew. It turned out she still remembered going in the taxi with her mom and my mom to pick up a five-month-old baby – me – from the Salvation Army all those years ago.”
Okay, just one more for today.
This man was 39 when he found out. He tells the story this way –
“The thing I remember most about the day I found out that my mother didn’t give birth to me, was this feeling of standing with my back to the edge of a cliff because everything behind me – everything I’d known to be true – felt as if it was a lie and I literally didn’t know who I was.”
“It even made me question the right to have my father’s war medals. As the eldest of five children, I’d been in possession of them. I took them out of the drawer by my bed that night and felt it was wrong for me to have them, because he wasn’t my real dad.” (My dad has his adoptive father’s war medals too. When my dad died, I gave them to his biological daughter, who we considered our aunt.)
Continuing this man’s story, “I don’t think my parents ever intended to tell me. My mother says it’s because I was a sensitive child and they didn’t want to upset me. When I asked her why she still didn’t tell me in adulthood, she said she gave my father, who had died when I was 21, a deathbed promise to keep the secret. I think the real reason was a fear that I would abandon her in favor of my birth family. Even when my mother did finally tell me I was adopted, the first thing she asked me was never to make contact with my birth mother.”
Secrets have an inconvenient way of outing themselves as these stories prove. Don’t do it. Don’t pretend a lie because the one you are lying too will be hurt more by the deception than by the honest truth.