Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Becoming Of Me

I was conceived in February 1963, to a woman who was probably not overjoyed to learn of the news. My mother definitely was not overjoyed to learn that my medium dark-skinned father was not going to leave his wife for a woman who was married and already had five kids. What was she thinking? Was my dad supposed to be a ticket out of a boring useless marriage? In my adoption papers was written,

“he shirked his responsibilities; she seemed quite uninterested in him. She said she did not want to see him again. She said it hurt that he had not offered to help her financially. His daughters are beautiful blondes who have financial security.”

Because my mother’s pregnancy was before Roe VS Wade, my mother had few safe options other than continuing with the unwanted pregnancy. Did my mother debate keeping me, hoping that my skin would be pale enough to blend in with her other English-Scotch children? Did Bert find out and tell her to “get rid of it”?

What is it like for a fetus to be in the uterus of a woman that does not want it? When a fetus is wanted, the mother talks to it, rubs her belly, and maybe even dances with it. Was my mother silent with me? Did she curse me? Did she curse herself? Attachment starts in the womb. Are unwanted fetuses left alone, detached in utero? I was born on 11/15/1963 and weighed over 8lbs; obviously my mother did not try to starve me to death.

Once born, did my mother see me, hold me or did the endless chain of caretakers begin, each one representing a new short-term attachment? According to the orphanage mediator, “It looks like you were in the hospital until 11/19/1963. I have no information either way if your birth mother saw you or not.” So it was at least four days until my stint in foster care started. I cried my best cry to get my mother to come back.

Foster care was apparently not a happy place, as I had a baby bootie (so the doctors say) tied so tightly around my right ankle that it caused a deep wound that has left a scar noticeable even today. No doctor that I have talked to feels that it was an accident, that it took a lot of pressure to get to that point. A short-term tie would not have caused it. Was I given “something to cry about”? I only wanted what all infants want…her. I guess the state did not pay my foster parents enough to deal with me.

Once foster care was over another trauma, the worst of the trauma, was to begin…adoption. I lost my mother and the world cheered, the world said it was a beautiful thing, that I was special, chosen, and lucky. I was about to be taught that suppressing the natural love I had for my mother was going to be the key to my survival. It would make my new parents happy and secure if I did so, and gosh knows I could not afford to be abandoned again as there had been so many strangers in my short time here.

Adoptive parents are some of the most insecure, jealous people on the planet. As I grew, I kept my end of the unwritten bargain that every adopted child makes (even though they never knew they were making it), stuff your real feelings down so deep that you mostly stop thinking about your mother in exchange for a place to live. Do not rock the boat, and for god’s sake, don’t ever, ever, say that you want your family back. DON'T GO LOOKING FOR YOUR FAMILY! To add to this, adoptees have an impossible task to accomplish and that is to be the child that their adoptive parents could not have. This is very traumatic. I had no one to mirror, we did not smell the same, there were no grandparents to ask what it was like when they were younger etc.… Adoption becomes adaption.

All of this puts us adoptees into a type of fog, something much more than a denial. It is in this foggy state that we adoptees shout the rhetoric of the adoption industry. We make our adoptive parents proud and secure when we say, “I just love being adopted" or, "I was so special to be adopted” or, in my case, “please don’t let her come get me”. Between the natural Stockholming that happened to me and the unspoken words of my adoptive parents, I had become afraid of my own mother. This kind of foggy crap can last a lifetime or until the adoptee comes out of the fog. It is not a pretty thing to defog, it bloody hurts and it may be why so many adopted people stay “comfortably numb” and don't complain.

My adoptive parents were good honest people and they would have made great parents if they were parenting their own child. I am NOT THEIR CHILD, I AM BETTY AND JOHN'S CHILD!

The only one chosen in adoption, generally speaking, is the adoptive parents. They fill out a form and, if they have the money and the attributes that the industry is looking for, they are given a chance to be notified if a child is made available. Once the next child in line is available, they can choose to take that child, or pass on the child. Adoptive parents never seem to pass up a child, but take the one available. Sometimes, moms go looking for new parents all on their own.

I was adopted by a preacher and a teacher and entered a highly religious family. God was all-powerful and he wanted me to lose my mother, proven by the fact that I did lose her. It was meant to be. They praised god that I was theirs.

Not once was I taught a prayer to say for my mother, not once was I asked what it was like to live without my mother. No one prayed to their god to get me and my mother back together again. My adoptive mother’s mother was a missionary in Bolivia and spent her time spreading her religion. They could go to foreign lands to find recruits for their religion, but could not be bothered to look for my mother (religion and all that goes with it is another reason why adoptees go into the fog and stay silent about their family. It is so frightening for a child that has already experienced a trauma).

Other than what I have written about above, I had a normal life. I went to public school, lived in decent neighborhoods, had clothes bought for me on a regular basis. I was six years old, and at the San Jose public library when I found a book on dogs. I could not read very well yet and did not know the difference between champion and companion, but even then, I knew I was going to show dogs.

Last count I had titled four champion dogs, two grand champion dogs, and five obedience titled dogs. Nobody in my adoptive family shows dogs. It is comforting to hear that my Aunt Martha was active in the world of dogs. I just wish we could have shown them together.

My love for horses started the same time as my love for dogs. I had an imaginary one that ran alongside the car wherever we went. I had a collection of plastic horses that I played with for hours in my bedroom. My imaginary “other” used to play with me with them. I made her go away whenever my adoptive mother came into my room. I did not want her to kill my “other” and make her go away completely. Now I know that my “other” was my real mother. I would go on to show horses and win belt buckles and other stuff that would have made Aunt Martha drool.

High school was a mess. I never went and was sent to seven different schools. I was full of what is now called “adoptee rage”. Once again, there was silence from my adoptive family. Punish her more, take away her horse, ship her off to a private school far away and make her live with strangers, abandon her, but for the love of god, do not talk about adoption, nor petition the courts to find her mother. In 1978, I was a freshman in high school, it was also the year that the state of Washington opened the adoption records allowing adopted children to try to contact their families. My adopted parents never let me know that it was an option.

Growing up, I never wanted to marry or have kids; I wanted to do something special with my life, something great. Wouldn’t you just know that preacher’s daughters don’t get put on birth control. They get hung out to dry, so I got knocked up my senior year.

I married a man who was one of eight kids, all raised on welfare, whose dad died of alcoholism by the time he was 35. The marriage lasted for 14 years, but only because I was too afraid to leave and try to take care of myself. I had one child and counted the days until it was over. I left in '95, spent three years co-parenting and then moved to my adoptive grandmother’s house because it was empty. I have not seen my son, my only blood relative, in 20 + years. I did not understand that whenever my son left my house because his visit was over, that it was triggering the loss of my mother over and over again. It was unbearable to be around him.

I woke up June 13, 2013 at the age of 48, placed my feet on the floor, went to my computer, looked up the name of the orphanage (industry talk calls it “children’s home”), and shot off an email to find out what I could about finding my family. It took me nearly 48 years to come out of the adoption fog. I have spent every day since, making a beeline back to my mother and understanding what all I have lost. I am still learning.