The Trauma Isn’t The Same

An adoptee was troubled by her birth mother’s awkward attempts to communicate and find some kind of common ground. As a mother who didn’t raise my own daughter after the age of 3 after a divorce, I understand how difficult it can be for an absent mother. I remember really have trouble finding a commercial birthday card that reflected my relationship with my daughter. Now, I just make my own with a software program.

So this original mother made a really poor choice by sharing a poem that really didn’t reflect the adoptee’s or this mother’s life experience and the adoptee felt angry and I can honestly understand why.

The fate of a mother is to wait for her children. You wait for them when you’re pregnant.
You wait on them when they get out of school. You wait on for them to get home after a night out.

You wait on them when they start their own lives.
You wait for them when they get home from work to come home to a nice dinner.
You wait for them with love, with anxiety and sometimes with anger that passes immediately when you see them and you can hug them.

Make sure your old mom doesn’t have to wait any longer.
Visit her, love her, hug the one who loved you like no one else ever will.
Don’t make her wait, she’s expecting this from you.
Because the membranes get old but the heart of a mother never gets old.
Love her as you can.
No person will love you like your mother will.

I think it was a cry for love and more connection but it fails given the circumstances.

Someone tried to translate this – Some people express themselves wrong as well, because they don’t know how. This poem says “I’m struggling to say this but I waited and waited for years to have a relationship, I’ve always loved you and I want to be able to have that relationship” the part at the end doesn’t strike me as the message. Again, this is how I see it.

I can easily understand that many women who surrender a child to adoption do wait a long time for the child to grow up so that they can have some hope of resuming a relationship. Sometimes it doesn’t happen in time – as it was with my mom, who’s own original mother was dead before she could connect. Now that I have the adoption file and have visited my grandmother’s grave, I believe she was always waiting. The name on the grave is the more childish name “Lizzie Lou” that was on my mom’s original birth certificate, rather than the more mature name “Elizabeth” I saw on a letter after the surrender and on the divorce papers when my mom’s original father legally ended his relationship with that wife.

An adoptee says it clearly – I disagree that first moms (unless they were adoptees also) suffer “just as much” trauma as adoptees. Most first moms don’t start life with sheer torture and live life in fight or flight mode. They don’t spend their childhoods lost in a fog of confusion getting gaslighted and tricked by their families. I have very much sympathy for first moms and the terrible trauma they endure but I would never equate that to what adoptees suffer as infants and children. Adoption shapes our entire lives. First mom trauma happens later in life. They are different.

Infants experience pre-cognitive trauma. Babies have no previous identity or knowledge of their self before the trauma. The memory is stored in the hippocampus without narrative as pure emotion, which is terror and powerlessness. This can get triggered and manifest as emotional flashbacks. And those might plague a person for a long time, if not adequately addressed in therapy.

Infants grow 75% of their brain mass between age zero to age 3. Trauma during rapid brain growth can be more impactful. Trauma “in the first two years followed by ten years of bliss is more damaging than ten years of adversity after 2 years of baby bliss” ~ Dr Bruce Perry, who co-authored a book with Oprah Winfrey – What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing.

Oprah writes – although I experienced abuse and trauma as a child, my brain found ways to adapt. This is where hope lives for all of us—in the unique adaptability of our miraculous brains. I hope that with our book #WhatHappenedToYou, you begin to find the tools to build a renewed sense of personal self-worth and ultimately recalibrate your responses to circumstances, situations, and relationships.

Honesty

An adoptive mother writes – One fear is of facing the reality that she isn’t really my daughter. Getting that amended birth certificate was so bizarre. It’s a lie. I know it’s a lie, because she didn’t come from my body and that’s what that paper says. I am her mom, in the sense that mom is a title but she has a real mom that she misses. I am her mom in the sense that I will raise and protect her. It’s a strange thing to be both her mom and not her mom. I had the fear of losing her when I reached out to her aunt. I’m working through that and we are committed to being honest and doing what is best for “our girl” but there’s still anxiety about her mom. There are safety issues but I recognize the harm not seeing her does to my daughter.

When asked, when has she seen or spoke to her mother ? The adoptive mother replied – Once a year before adoption and a year before that the mother only made sporadic visits. I don’t want to share a lot of her personal information out of respect for her. I will say that I have always told the truth to her, age appropriately at each stage of her growing (the child is now 7 years old), and she has always wanted her mother. I have always been committed to making that happen, but wanted to wait until she was 18. I’ve since learned that’s not the best and I am working to connect her with her family. An adoptee advises “let her see her natural mother as the reality and not the romanticized version she will create otherwise.”

So this important perspective – this may be a hard pill to swallow, that her relationship with her actual family is more important than her relationship with you. She needs that bond and connection. Please remember that you have added to her trauma by erasing part of her identity by changing her birth certificate. You have also muddied the waters for future generations who want to know their biological heritage, which isn’t you. Its important for you to know that the most painful thing her mother will ever feel is to hear her call you mom. I can tell you from experience.

These are all things you have to own, and let go of fragility. You are in a position of power. It’s scary for the child and her family, because there is this fragile adopter that controls if they ever see each other again. Keep that in mind. Think of how you would feel if someone had control of if you could see the person you loved the most again. How would you respond to them ? Would it be a healthy relationship ? Would you just do whatever it took to keep them happy ?

Telling The Truth

The same can be said for your donor conceived child. Way back when, the suggestion was to begin to tell “the story” very early in the child’s life. That it would be good practice and that the truth would never feel as though it had been concealed. With the advent of inexpensive DNA testing and matching sites, I’m glad we followed that advice with our two sons. My mom’s group from over 18 years ago, once divided into two camps – telling and not telling. I am compassionately understanding of those who chose not to tell. Once I was talking to a friend who was stressing about telling her children they were donor egg conceived. While we were on the phone, her husband was in the backyard committing suicide. Understandably, the disruption of that tragic event has now robbed her of any good time to come out with the truth.

I do know of some late discovery adoptees (this is someone who finds out after maturity that they were adopted). One shares her point of view today – An adopted person should know they are adopted before they ever understand what it means. When is the right time to tell someone they’re adopted? Yesterday. The day before. The day before that. If you’re asking this question, you’ve already done it wrong.

If there is an adopted person in your life and you cannot say with 100% certainty that they know they’re adopted, you and the people around that adoptee have failed them. Withholding this information from an adopted person isn’t about the comfort of or what’s best for the adoptee, it’s about the unwillingness of the people around the adoptee to be uncomfortable.

Telling a person they’re adopted should never be done in a public setting. To do so is meant only to protect yourself from reaction and backlash. It’s cruel. There needs to be space and grace allowed for all the feelings that come with having your world turned upside down. This needs to be done with the understanding that your relationship with that person may never ever be the same moving forward. This needs to be done with the understanding that there might be no more relationship after this. And you need to understand *this*isn’t*about*you*. It’s about doing what’s right to make an adopted person whole. Because while it may seem that they don’t consciously know, their body does. The trauma of their separation from their natural mother has been stored within their bodily cells. To withhold this information from someone is emotionally abusive.

You Don’t Owe Them

Today’s perspective – Now that I am an adult, I have decided to NOT have a relationship with my adoptive parents. How do you deal with people that say I ”owe” them a relationship with myself and my kids? “After all they’ve done for you…” is the one I get the most. How would you respond to this?

You owe them nothing. You didn’t ask to be born, and you certainly didn’t ask them to adopt you. That is conditional “love.” I would answer that with, “Goodbye. Do not ever contact me nor my family again.”

A Sad Truth

Sharing a first person birth mother story . . .

I very regrettably placed my oldest daughter for adoption, after discovering I was unexpectedly pregnant. I didn’t see her at all the first two years. Then, for the past two years, we have only had day visits. It was going great until a month or two ago. Then, there were a few visits, where she clung onto me, crying and not wanting to leave, when I would drop her back off to at her adoptive mother’s. After the last really dramatic time that happened, a few subsequent visits were cancelled. Then, we had our first visit since, and everything was totally the opposite…

Now, she doesn’t want to be with me AT ALL, when her adoptive mother is dropping her off to be with me. She stopped calling me Mama C and just calls me by my first name. The entire ride home she cried that she wants her mom (adoptive mother). I understand, she is with that lady all the time. I’m glad she loves her but it’s clearly causing my daughter distress now to go with me. I don’t know what changed during those couple of missed visits but something definitely did.

Yesterday, I had my first overnight with her. She didn’t want to go with me at first, the first twenty minutes of our drive, she cried for her adoptive mother but then, she seemed was fine. We had a great day, she played with her little sister and my girlfriend’s son all day. Then bedtime came and she just wanted to go home, wanted her adoptive mom, and just seemed generally upset.

I got her to help me put my younger daughter to sleep. I told her we would call her mom, once I got the little one to sleep. My daughter fell asleep with her younger sister. Then, a little after 2 am, she woke up and was very upset, wanted to go home. I told her it was no big deal and we would call her mom and told her she did good by using her voice and telling me what she needs. I told her I understand because when I was her age, up until I was like 13, I would make my mom come get me anytime I tried to spend the night anywhere. I know that feeling she had, a giant pit in your stomach and all you want is your mom, but hers is probably 1000x worse because she’s an adoptee that already has separation trauma. So, we called her adoptive mother and I ended up driving two hours at 2:30 am to take her home. I tried to be silly and play music she liked and sing along (to keep myself awake and to make her feel better) but she was silent the entire drive. She didn’t want to give me a hug or kiss goodbye. She just wanted her adoptive mother.

I don’t know what to do. I know I caused all of this by choosing to put her up for adoption. I chose to drag everyone through a very expensive court case for two years because they were preventing me from seeing her at all. I chose to get shared custody of her in order to remain in her life. I will be honest, I want full custody of her and to keep her with me all of the time. I wish I was the mommy she cried for. But I’m not. At this point, she doesn’t want to go with me any more. She doesn’t want to stay with me and I have to accept that. My heart broke over her distress last night. It is not my desire want to cause her any type of stress or anxiety or pain. I don’t know what to do.

I feel like making her come with me is hurting her right now. But I also feel like, if I step aside and let the visits stop for right now, I’m going to be abandoning her all over again. It would also absolutely break my own heart. But it’s what is best for my daughter. That’s all I care about. I’m bawling my eyes out as I’m writing this. I just want what’s best for her, even if that’s not me right now.

An Alternative to Adoption

Even before I knew so much about adoption, when secondary infertility became an obstacle to my husband’s desire to be a father, my OB-GYN said, “there is another way.” Now that I know more about the trauma that adoption causes, than I knew at that time, I will always consider this the best way. Even before we knew about that, my husband and I rejected the idea of adopting children. I do feel that sperm donors are more worrisome because the history of that kind of donation may include many, many half siblings. I have a biological, genetically related, grown daughter and two grandchildren, so having been there and done made accepting the “other” way easier for me personally.

Distance prevents us from having a closer relationship with our donor but my children have met her on more than one occasion. They are aware of her and that she has children, two sons and a daughter, which she has raised. Occasionally, I show them pictures of her and those children, when she shares them at Facebook. She has always been interested in the boys, while being non-intrusive but totally open to any relationship they may want to create with her. They have a private method of contact with her, if they wish to use that, through 23 and Me.

The Guardian today has another family’s story. “They used her eggs to have a baby. Now they’re one big family.” by Ellie Houghtaling, with photographs by Bridget Bennett. The subtitle notes – “Anonymity is meant to protect donors, but taking another path can afford a different sort of security – and new ways to think about how to raise a kid.” We took a similar path, our donor was a stranger we “met” on the internet and had what is called a “known donation”. We have not had exactly the same style of parenting as in this article. We have always been open and transparent with our sons about how they were conceived because they were wanted and not some kind of accident.

It is rare for families to meet the stranger donating eggs to them. In the US, egg and sperm donation is usually a closed process. It is more common for a family to hear about the donor through an agency. With anonymous donation, the couple may receive only basic, non-identifying features about their potential donor – such as their university or their eye color – without ever learning their name or hearing their voice. Most donors go through some testing. In the case of egg donation, hormone injections are utilized over a period of time to procure whatever number of eggs the donor produces. With agency facilitated anonymous donation methods, the donor is never told whether their donation was successful, who the family is, or what any offspring that result look like.

Before our first procedure (she donated again for our second son), we spent time with our donor and her youngest son. We were respectful of what she was doing for us. Both times, we provided her with whatever comforts she suggested would be helpful after her eggs were retrieved and have stayed in contact with her over the years. Our sons are genetically the same – the sperm and egg sources were the same for both. I see our donor and her children reflected in the appearance of our sons. It makes me happy – which might seem strange to some people – but I think it is a reflection of my fondness and appreciation for her. As far as being their mother – the donor has shown a total understanding of the differences in her and my roles. My sons treat me 100% as their mother, which seems natural and understandable regardless.

Becoming a family thanks to that “other way” has proven to be a good choice for my own family. Our sons seem to understand they would not even exist under any other circumstance.

It’s Complicated

I didn’t hate motherhood but circumstances robbed me of it with my first child. She ended up being raised by her dad and a step-mother, after I left her temporarily in the care of her paternal grandmother. This morning I was reading an edited extract from Undo Motherhood by Diana Karklin. Stories from women all over the planet about how motherhood was not a welcomed event in their lives.

At the time I left my daughter, it didn’t feel like it was because I didn’t love being her mother, I always did love that but was I committed to it ? Reading these stories today, I wonder at my lack of maturity and sense of responsibility at the time. I think I always expected to do something like my own mother did – get married and immediately have children, while going to work everyday to contribute to the family income. I was also into “having a good time” and all that meant as someone in their early 20s – whether in a marriage or not.

Even so, it’s strange that I married. During my senior year in high school, that had not been my plan. I was going to share an apartment with my best friend. The first time I went out with the man who I would marry and have a child with, I told my mom when I came back from that date that it was never going to work out. Then, he showed me a ring and asked me to marry him and so, I did.

I still think marriage isn’t a good bargain for a woman, even though I then married a second time and had two sons with the man who is my husband today. If anything happens that takes him from me and leaves me yet living, I cannot imagine marrying again. We have now been married a long time and so, this time it worked out but with a bump or two along the way – yet the marriage has been able to endure.

Reading the article in The Guardian today – “The women who wish they weren’t mothers: ‘An unwanted pregnancy lasts a lifetime’ “ – has given me pause in reflecting on my own life. Also today, in the Science of Mind magazine which shares the philosophy of a man named Ernest Holmes who created a practice based upon the philosophies of the world and developments in science, I was also given more pause to reflect on romantic love.

The author, Rev Dr Jim Lockard, reflected on what it means to be human and to have a spiritual nature. Our biological selves seek to procreate, as does all life. Our emotional selves seek connection and to give and receive love with a special other to experience a deep feeling of fulfillment. Our intellectual selves seek to find a partner to share our human experiences and to create a family structure. Our spiritual selves seek to link to another to experience the joining of spiritual identities in relationship.

Clearly on many levels, having children fulfills a lot of those aspects and qualities of life, as much or sometimes more than a romantic partner can. Just as The Guardian piece made clear – it is often our cultures that have set rules and expectations about our adult lives. Even as the rigidity of narrow gender definitions have been rapidly changing, with the overturn of Roe v Wade, many women feel they are being pushed back into another time that they thought was in the past. They may be forced into giving birth, due to whatever reason and circumstance, even though they aren’t craving to fulfill the duties of motherhood. Children do best when they are intended and wanted. When they are not – wounding and trauma are the result. Just as an unwanted pregnancy lasts a lifetime, regardless of how long that initial romantic relationship endures, or even how that one night stand or rape has become imprinted on a woman’s soul, what happens to that child lasts a lifetime as well.

The nature of falling in love is a mixture of biological urges, emotional longings, rational explanations and spiritual connections. To fall in love is to exist in instability and the projection of our unconscious expectations onto another person. Our sense of rational choice is diminished. Many women wake up one day to realize that they fell in love with someone their ego was imagining and not a reality the other person was able to actually be – long term. A man is often free to walk away, leaving a woman forced to carry the burden of their children for at least 2 decades – truly for both the mother’s and the children’s lifetimes. Whether a father does or not is never guaranteed.

Separations

An adoptee wrote – “I hate not belonging anywhere. I hate that I have multiple families, but also really zero. I hate needing to earn my place in people’s lives.” I could relate as I recently shared with my husband and he understood. We both come from small nuclear families and there is no extended family geographically close to us and honestly, few of those as well anywhere else.

Much of this feeling for me comes from the realization that those who were my extended family growing up aren’t really related to me. Those that are genetically biologically related to me don’t really know me, have no real history with me and though I am slowly without too much intrusion trying to build these new relationships . . . sigh. It isn’t easy.

My first family break-up was one I initiated. I divorced the man I had married just before I turned 18 and a month before I graduated from high school in April 1972. By November, more or less, I was pregnant with our first child. She remains the joy of my life and has gifted me with two grandchildren. However, finances separated me from my daughter when she was 3 years old and she was raised by her father and step-mother who gave her a yours-mine-and-ours family of siblings, sisters, just like I grew up with. It has left me with a weird sense of motherhood in regard to my daughter. One that I often struggle with but over the last decade or so, I have been able to bridge some of that gap- both with regard in my own sense of self-esteem and in a deepening relationship with my daughter, primarily since the passing of her step-mother (not that the woman was an impediment but understandably, my daughter’s heart remains seriously tied to that woman even today).

The trauma of mother/child separation lived by each of my adoptee parents (while skipping my relationship and my sisters’ relationship with our parents) passed over to my sisters and my own relationships with our biological genetic children. I seriously do believe it has proven to have been a factor. Both of my sisters gave up babies to adoptive parents and one lost her first born in court to his paternal grandparents. Sorrows all around but all us must go on the best we can.

Since learning the stories of my original grandparents, I have connected with several genetic relatives – cousins mostly and an aunt plus one who lives in Mexico with her daughter. Everyone is nice enough considering the absolutely un-natural situation our family histories have thrust us into. So really, now I find myself in this odd place of not really belonging to 4 discrete family lines (one set of grandparents were initially married and divorced after the surrender of their child to adoption and one set never married, in fact my paternal grandfather likely never knew he had a son). Happily, though a significant bit of geographical distance a factor foe me, my paternal grandfather was a Danish immigrant and I now have contact with one cousin in Denmark who has shared some information with me that I would not have but for him.

Regarding estrangement, I’ve had no direct contact with my youngest sister since 2016. In regard to looking out for her best interests, her own attorneys in the estate proceedings encouraged me to pursue a court appointed guardian/conservator for her – as both of our parents died 4 months apart and she was highly dependent upon them due to her mental illness of (likely) paranoid schizophrenia. The effects of that really destroyed my relationship with her (which had been close until our mother died and then, went seriously to hell, causing us to become estranged). I just learned the other day that the court has released her conservator. I guess she is on her own now. She survived 4 years of homelessness before reconciling uneasily with our parents. I guess the survivor in her will manage but she most likely also now believes the guardian/conservator proceedings were my own self being vindictive, for some unreasonable purpose. Sigh. I don’t miss contact with her – honestly – it was cruel and difficult being on the receiving end of her offensives after our mom died. I do wish her “well” in the sincerest meanings of that concept.

It could also be that without these great woundings I would be less vulnerable and available, less empathic and compassionate, with the people I encounter as I live my life each day. Maybe it is precisely my reaching out, in an effort to connect, that causes me to share my own personal circumstances. A sacrifice of the heart.

The Weird Joy of Reunion

Sharing the current state of reunion that one adoptee has experienced.

Change. Change can be so beautiful, but very difficult. The past six months, I started my journey to find my birth family. Not only did I find both my mother and father. I found many other family members.

When I found my parents it was extremely exciting, but honestly, it brought up so many different emotions I didn’t expect to be brought up. It was weird talking for hours with these strangers that somewhere weren’t strangers. It was even weirder loving these two people that I’ve never even met. It confused me how it could be possible. How can I love two people that I don’t know. Looking at it now, it’s so beautiful. God intended natural family to be together. It wasn’t intended for adoption to be a thing. That love I have for them is wired in me. I didn’t know I would feel that way from the start. I thought that maybe I wouldn’t even like them. Thankfully, that love just comes naturally with parents and their children.

I am lucky enough to be building a relationship with them. It has been all I wanted for almost nineteen years and now I have it. It still blows my mind that I know them. Not only do I know them, but they want to know everything about me. I couldn’t be more blessed with who they are.

So yeah, you could say my life has changed. This change has brought sadness, happiness, confusion, and about any other emotion you could think of. Memories good and bad have been brought back to life. I am so glad God chose my adoptive and biological family to love me. Through all of this, I have seen just how lucky I am to have so many people rooting for me. I am even luckier that my biological mom chose my family. I get to tell the people who made me about the people who raised me and be so proud. Although this journey has been hard for my parents, birth parents, and everyone else involved, I am so excited for my future with my entire family.

No Point To What If’s

I heard a snippet of a story about two women, who as babies, were switched at birth. Martha Miller was asked – Does the thought ever cross your mind, what if the switch hadn’t been made? What if the McDonalds had just taken me home and I’d grown up in the house with my biological parents and my biological brother, who would I be?

She answered, Oh, that’s a funny question. I really only thought about that one time. I only let myself think about it one time. It was actually right after I met them. And I was going back to my mother’s house. So I left Prairie du Chien and I was driving. And it was then that I started thinking, oh, my gosh, my life would have been so different. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized, you know, I can’t think about this, because it’ll drive me crazy if I do. And so I kind of made a promise to myself that I would just never go down that road again, that I was just not going to go there. And I really haven’t, because there’s no point.

The little bit of the story “Switched at Birth” replayed for This American Life that I heard had me reflecting on it as the child of two adoptees. They were switched but they were taken from their original mothers, who’s wombs they developed in, and given to literally “strangers” to be raised as those people’s own children. Since learning about who my original grandparents were and something about their stories, I also realize that the what if’s – what if life had unfolded differently ? – are honestly pointless because it did not.

If the trauma of breaking the mother/child bond formed in utero is real, and I do believe it is real, then whether the parents know (in adoption, the adoptive parents know they did not give birth to that child) or don’t know (because the mother did give birth but brought the wrong baby home from the hospital with her) would not change the experience of trauma in the infant.

Regarding nurture, the child may have been treated differently from an adoptee growing up because that knowledge isn’t there in the parents raising the child. Does that make a difference ? I think it might.

Back in 1994, back in the day when people still delivered big news to each other by mail, two women who barely knew each other, Martha Miller and Susan McDonald, got a letter from Martha’s mom. “Dear Martha and Sue, have you ever suspected or been told that we took home the baby that belonged to Kay and Bob McDonald and they later took home the baby that belonged to us?” It was 43 years after “the fact.”

Mrs Miller actually knew this, the day she got home from the hospital in 1951 – that she had the wrong baby, a baby born to a woman named Kay McDonald. But she kept it quiet all those years. She had noticed that when she weighed the baby, the weight was two and 1/2 pounds less than at birth. But then, she hemorrhaged and went into convulsions, landing her back to the hospital for several days. At that point, she simply dropped the “mixed-up baby” issue.

One thing that makes this whole switched thing even stranger is – the two couples knew each other. The Millers were at the McDonalds’ 50th anniversary party. They have mutual acquaintances. They lived a short drive from each other’s houses in Wauzeka and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.

Martha did not look nor act like any of the other Miller children. She was a delight, so pretty, so photogenic, so full of life. The other Miller children were very serious. Martha excelled in music, was a great cheerleader at school, very popular, and a blonde. The other Miller children had dark hair and all needed glasses for nearsightedness. Martha did not need glasses.

All the kinds of differences adoptees growing up with other children who are biological to the adoptive parents are very familiar with – the feeling of not really belonging in the family you are growing up in. In fact, Martha’s mother actually told her later, “I really didn’t expect that much from you, because I knew that you weren’t our child.” For Martha, that was a hard thing to hear.

The older girls, who Martha was raised with as sisters, had “sort of” always known about the possibility that “Marti” wasn’t their biological sister. They had vague memories of their parents talking about it, after they brought Martha home from the hospital, about how this baby looked different from Mrs Miller’s other babies, and that maybe this baby had been switched.

Mrs Miller ended her revelatory letter with this – So now we are both aware of what happened 43 years ago. We love you, Martha Jane– I’m sorry. We love you, Martha Jane, as dearly as our other six children. I think you know that you will always be our daughter. But I thought each of you should know your biological and spiritual backgrounds. And know you have mixed feelings about this revelation. I have much anguish and many tears.

Learning truth like this, as a grown up with children of your own, it is disruptive. That is the kind of news nobody ever wants to hear. And when you get this kind of news as an adult, that your mom isn’t really your mom or your daughter isn’t really your daughter, and at the same time, you have a new mom or a new daughter, it is not so clear what you’re supposed to do with this new parent or new child who’s now in your life. What are you supposed to be with each other?

Sue McDonald was different from the rest of the family in certain ways. She was dark and tall and skinny in a family that was none of those. In a pretty lighthearted household, she was nervous, studious, serious. But that didn’t seem so strange. Even so, when Sue was in junior high, a friend said to her, “you must be adopted, because you do not look at all like your parents.” Sue answered, “I don’t know.” So she asked her mother, “Am I adopted?” And her mother said, “Oh, no, no. I definitely was pregnant and you are my child. I wanted a baby and you’re my baby. You were not adopted.” As to the physical differences, her mom just said – you just take after great-grandpa this or aunt so-and-so.

Now that they know, one of the toughest things both Marti and Sue have to deal with is logistical. Having two sets of parents and two full sets of siblings and cousins is kind of a practical headache. For myself as well. Now that I know my “real” cousins, I still have the adoptive ones and aunts and an uncle from my parents’ adoptions that have been there throughout my life to show concern about.

There is a LOT more to this story, so if you find it interesting, do read the transcript – Switched at Birth.