Adoption – The Great Mind Fuck

Adoption and reunion is a mind fuck.

I’ve lived in an adoption rainbow farting fog my entire life.  I assumed my adoptive parents cultural, social and historical life.  It is the only way to survive as an adoptee.

First I want to say that I love my adoptive parents.  I had a great life.  Anything a child could ask for.  I grew up in affluence with parents very devoted to my health and education.  They tried to be the best parents they could.  It was my hard wired biology that kept getting in the way.

My adoptive Mother was not open to my questioning my heritage.  She, like many adoptive mothers are fearful.  I’m not sure about what.  Maybe deep down they never quite feel like the baby they brought home is truly theirs?  Perhaps it was that year of being under a microscope by the agencies, testing and assessing their parental aptitude?  Perhaps it was her inability to adequately grieve for her own infertility?   Then one day your supposedly “blank-slate” infant grows up and looks different, acts different, is not assimilating into the family “culture.”   I believe that fear is ever-present with adoptive parents.

My search had to happen after my mother passed away.  I was 53, and assumed that I would not be able to find my biological family, or that my biological parents were possibly deceased.  Once the drive to search took hold, it was something I could not stop. I needed to know who I was.  My life had been a series of death defying roller coaster rides for years, and I was getting deeply philosophical in my middle age.   I had not been successful in the things I had been taught by my adoptive family.  I was struggling.

Fortunately, the state in which I was adopted, Massachusetts, recently opened up their adoption birth records.*  I was able to get a copy of my original birth certificate.  After some time spent searching on the Internet, and with the help of an adoption “angel,” I found my family in Ohio.  A few short months later, I planned a trip to go visit them.

Now I’m back from meeting my biological Mother, two half-brothers and a half-sister.   We decided that I would go there for 12 days because I had no idea when I could get back to visit them.  Twelve days is a long time to visit anyone, especially people you’ve never met before.  So we all threw caution to the wind, and bravely ventured into the unknown.  I stayed with my 77-year-old biological Mother in her home.

The trip was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.  It was full of joy.  It was painful on many levels too.

I worked hard on that trip to keep myself centered, but failed quite a few times, even calling my husband to tell him I wanted to come home (4 days in).   My usual resourceful and self-assured persona was overwhelmed.  Everything I ever envisioned about a biological family, everything I felt about who I am was challenged.

My family.  There it was, my biology reflecting itself back intensely.  It wasn’t just physical appearance; it was attitude, social ideals and life philosophies.  My family was typically flawed.  Hurt feelings and imagined injustices just like any family out there.   But they are a family, living close, involved with each other, supportive and loving.

I was readily accepted.  I was called sister and daughter.  There was a lot of excitement and enthusiasm with my arrival.  As this initial phase wore down I became aware that I didn’t actually belong there.   My place in the family has no anchor.  I am woven into their fabric by very loose threads.   I am in a nether-world, not fitting into my adoptive family, not belonging to my biological family.  This is the adoption mind-fuck.

I wish I could say that we tearfully ran to each other in fields of daisies, fit for a reunion movie of the week.  There were no Hallmark moments.  I must say the trip was pleasant with some minor bumps.  I will stay in contact with them, and I will call them my family.  But if truth be told, my family actually resides in California – my adoptive Dad, who is dear to me, and my husband and son.  My heart is with the people with whom I am familiar, who I have history, who have proven their love to me.  My own little network for which I do have an anchor.

So that leaves me with what?  The really cool thing is my blood-line heritage.  I am descended, on both my Grandmother and Grandfather’s side from the early American settlers, from the Mayflower and the Daughters of the Revolution.   I am directly descended from Governor Bradford, the first Governor of Massachusetts, one of the organizers of the Mayflower expedition, who is said to be responsible for Thanksgiving; from Robert Pike, a defender of Quaker women, who tried to stop the Salem witch trials; and from Deborah Sampson, a cross-dressing Revolutionary war heroine (perfect for my San Francisco persona).  I apparently have a great-great grandmother that was full-blooded Native American.

It was amazing to me that most of my family had no idea of their history, nor did they seem to care.  Taking one’s history for granted seems to run in biological families.  For an adoptee, it is beyond imagination that one wouldn’t be interested in lineage.  It is the one big piece missing in the “Who am I and where did I come from?” question.  It was more than my immediate biology staring me in my face.  It was MY heritage.

Another element that took me by surprise is how the women in our family are strong and intuitive.  There was no doubt that I belonged.   As a woman that seeks out strong female relationships, I was more than astonished at this connection.  Surely this is hard-wired; there is no other reason for us all to be this similar.  Before 5 days were over, I was finishing my sister’s sentences, and she knew what I was about to say before I said it.  It was obvious there was something deeper lurking in our unfolding friendship.  My sister will be my ally for life, and I will happily enfold her in my world, and perhaps at some point she will become an anchor.

I am unable to write about my biological Mother.  This is too personal and too complicated.  I cannot write out full sentences about her.  I feel angry at her for giving me up, no matter what the circumstances.  I love her.  I hate her.  I wanted to flee from her.  I wanted her to hold me like a child.  I wanted someone different, but was grateful she is who she is.   She is very brave for letting me come stay with her for so long…we are both brave.

I am still recovering from this trip.  At the urging of my dear husband, I will notate how I feel so far, and perhaps will need to revisit this post in the future.  I have no idea what my future is with this family.  I know I was accepted, thought of as a member and for that I feel humbled.  But my internal struggles with where I belong, who I am, how I will live the rest of my life is still unfolding.  While I was hoping that finding my family would fill in all the holes, I found there were deeper valleys forming.  I am still standing on the precipice; my toes are still dangling over the edge.  And it only leads me to believe that finding oneself is based on internal horizons, biological connections or not.  No one will fill in those holes for you.  It will always be a matter of finding your center, your peace, your own personal philosophy.

– molly bloom

(*NOTE:  Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states that allows adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates.  The rest of the country has a confusing welter of qualifications and restrictions designed to keep the identity of adoptees a deep, dark secret.  An excellent resource for learning more about the fight for adoptee rights is Bastard Nation.  – c.a.)

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10 Responses to Adoption – The Great Mind Fuck

  1. Christina says:

    How did I not know you had a blog???

    ~ElenaKatherine

    • Molly Bloom says:

      Well, my husbands blog actually. But he has encouraged me to post about my experiences. He has been my biggest support throughout this process. He is also an advocate for open birth records. I owe him so much helping me in this journey, as well as being an understanding husband and stellar friend in our 26 years together.

  2. Mirah Riben says:

    In many ways I suppose, such a reunion seems to be a re-birth. You are starting out all over again from day one with a whole new family. How can it possibly be familiar, or anything like or as dearly connected to you as the family you grew up with or the one you have formed and known?

    Twelve days is at once an awfully long time for a visit with virtual strangers, but also a infinitesimally tiny amount of time to build bonds — especially to build over a foundation of understandable and unworked through anger and feelings of rejection and abandonment — no matter how much love you felt in your adoptive family. These things take time to sort out. I hope you will be patient and allow it all – including your angry feelings – to unfold gently.

    You were just re-born. be as gentle with yourself as you would be with a newborn…or perhaps a very young child who has suffered trauma is a better analogy. Allow your inner child to rail against the injustice of having been torn from your mother and she “allowing” it (as much as victims of the holocaust allowed themselves to be slaughtered and did run away.)

    I wonder if you have been in touch with other adoptees and natural mothers? If you have heard their stories or read about what life was like for women in maternity homes back when your mother would have been?

    I encourage you to research that with the same zeal you have researched your most impressive roots.

    There are many books and some good films. See Origins-USA.org for a booklist and see JeanStrauss.com for films.

    The thing that sucks is that reunion does not make it all better. it does not fix all the damage that years of separation, wondering, hurt and anger have accumulated. It does not erase those years for you, or for her. In fact be prepared to feel worse before you feel better as reunion dredges up repressed memories and feelings…

    In then end, for SOME, it is a catharsis…

    For many torn apart by adoption, reunification is far too little and way too late in life to change the destruction to our psyche, the wounds long scarred over and hardened, the PTSD…

    • Molly Bloom says:

      Thanks Mirah. Yes indeed I have been in contact with both adult adoptees and birth mothers. The challenges are intense on all sides of the triad. My fellow bastards are a beautiful crowd. The primal wound rarely completely heals, but we do what we can in our survival mode.

      My post came after two weeks of being home again. It’s amazing what comes out when you sit and freely type your thoughts. Most of what I wrote was not pre-conceived, one draft…..and cathartic indeed.

      I appreciate your comments and reminding me that this is just part of the journey. Yes, I need to find my inner peace and I am actively working on this.

  3. Mirah Riben says:

    PS You write BEAUTIFULLY and with the raw power of TRUTH!
    Wishing you peace…

  4. Sharon Brown says:

    molly, I second Mirah’s observation on your powerful writing.
    I want to thank you for this also because I had a son out-of-wedlock 40 years ago, but didn’t give him up.
    All these years I’ve mostly felt guilt that he could have had a much more prosperous upbringing, but your post shows me the error in my thinking.
    This is the second time today that a post I read enlarged my heart & mind.
    I always knew you two were a gift just for me from the intertube guy.
    Thanks
    magnet

    • Molly Bloom says:

      Wow Sharon. Your reply touched me on many levels. Yes, yes, yes, you were right to keep your child against what must have been strong societal morals and urgings to give your child up.

      I guess if I wasn’t a mother myself, I wouldn’t have felt as strongly as I did. That is the ugly crux of the matter. How can you hold a child and breast feed it for 12 days and then hand that child over to a stranger? A first mother with severe PTSD is the only answer. I forgive her, I really do. I just can’t help these strong emotions in my heart. I own them. I validate them. Anything less would be insanity.

  5. Marni says:

    I came across your post today. I was in that same boat five or so years ago. Do you mind if I ask how things have been? Here is my email if you’d rather not post it. If you’d rather not, hope you are well.
    Marni

  6. steven * says:

    good luck to you mrs. my story is rather different. adopted by a violent little ww2 veteran whose wife did not want children. my life has been awful with beatings and accusations of being a living demon and being evil and a selfish partially retarded “mother” who didnt care and, to this day still doesnt. im now an alcoholc although highly intelligent with it. i hate the catholic church for what they have done to me. i am totally alone now. my adopted sister who i love dearly doesnt associate with me as her husband hates me (he is a foriegner; muslim) my so called father is dead and my so called mother is just a nutcase. thats it – all i have left are close friends who also avoid me cos i drink too much. so all in all – thanks catholic irish stupid beliefs and dont EVER darken my door again. best luck to all out there.

  7. Siba says:

    Where are our anchors? I feel totally adrift being adopted

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