An adoptee writes – “My birthday was a few days ago, and with Mother’s Day this weekend, there are a lot of complicated emotions flying around.”
Some background from the adoptee – I was adopted at birth by my aunt (my genetic mom’s sister) and uncle, and moved several states away. I was given a new name, new Birth Certificate, the whole works. My adoptive parents had been trying for a baby, and since my original mom didn’t have the resources (job, place of her own) they asked to adopt me. A month after I was born, my adoptive parents ended up pregnant with my brother. My sister followed a year later. I do not look like anyone in my adoptive family and I never felt like I fit in or belonged. I was treated way differently than my siblings. My adoptive mother passed away when I was 19. Since then, I’ve had a mediocre relationship with my adoptive dad, barely there communication with my brother, and my sister won’t acknowledge my existence.
I was a rebellious, angry teen, and my issues carried over into adulthood. I caused my family a lot of pain, but had no idea that any of my issues were likely caused by trauma. That said, I take responsibility for my decisions, own up to them, and have repaired relationships where possible. Still, I have lived most of my life filled with shame and thinking I am defective and a bad person regarding some of the choices I’ve made.
After years of therapy for depression and anxiety, a wonderful therapist suggested that my lifelong issues could be a result of adoption trauma. I brushed her off, saying “My adoption happened a long time ago. I’ve dealt with it. I’m fine.” And she gently replied, “No, I don’t think you are.” And so it was, that I started coming out of the fog five years ago, right around the time I turned 40.
I have always known who my mother was, but never got to know her and have only met her three times. The first was when I was 3. She visited with her new husband so that she could come clean about her “past.” The second was when I was 15. I was in the throes of angsty adolescence and started having issues around my identity. The whole purpose of my visit was to talk to her openly about my adoption, but…although her husband knew I was her daughter, she would not acknowledge that I was his sister to my half brother, who was 10 years old at the time. I had to tiptoe around for a week while he called me “cousin.” More shame. The last time I saw her was at my adoptive mother’s funeral, almost 26 years ago. We talk here and there, mostly on Facebook, but I literally don’t feel anything for her. She still talks of giving me up as being “the best thing” for me, without acknowledging the harm. I realize she was in an impossible situation, but just to have her see me, acknowledge the hurt I experienced and continue to deal with, would mean so much.