“Our Wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.” - David Richo
A huge part of me wished she would have been dead. After all, death would be the only acceptable explanation I could give her for not searching for me. Yet after nearly 8 years, my prayers had been answered. Years of daydreaming of who I was had finally been revealed. I felt like I was in a dream. I was Dorothy Gail being whisked away by a tornado into a fictious land of childhood fantasy. Was this all a dream? I was afraid to go to sleep. So many nights I had dreamt of unlocking the truth. The key to Pandora’s Box had been out of my reach for so long. I feared shutting my eyes only to wake and find the box locked once more. It just couldn’t be real, but it was.
I don’t remember being nervous during that first phone call. I guess I was still in shock and unaware of what to expect. Did she remember me? Did she think about me after all these years? I thought I might remember the sounds of her voice that first time I heard it again. Though the voice I heard was not the voice of what I had anticipated to be of a mother. It was that of a woman who sounded cold and uninviting. I silently prayed I had the wrong number. Surely, this could not be the woman who gave birth to me. I then realized the fantasy was over. This was real. Like many other adoptees, I too had spent most of my childhood fantasizing about the mother I had lost. Is she famous? Is she royalty? Is she even alive? I guess what many of us don’t consider is that this woman too is an ordinary human being. She doesn’t possess any superhuman powers extraordinary abilities. No one is perfect. I often feel like all birthmothers are put on some pedestal, because they did some heroic gesture by giving us a “better” life. Other times, I feel like they want us to feel sorry for them as if they had no control over their actions. While this may be the case for many of them, I don’t feel they all were forced down this path. I believe some chose it. Perhaps, there are those that just don’t want to be our mothers or a mother at all. The voice I heard was indeed not one I had expected. She did not appear happy to speak to me nor did she ask me anything about my life. I was hurt and extremely disappointed, but I refused to let myself cry. I spent a lifetime of birthdays crying. I listened to her tell me she never thought about me. Meanwhile the hole in my heart got bigger.
I had to remember that she did agree to speak to me. I had to do so on her own terms, which I agreed. She told me I was not allowed to speak to her about her family. Wait a minute! I thought it was my family too. What about my brother or my birth father? I had so many questions, but she refused to answer them. She immediately began to state she has no favorite food, color, holiday, or season. She went on to tell me she was a simple person and did not want me involved in her business. The conversation didn’t last very long. All her answers were very quick and short. She treated me as if I were some telemarketer calling to sell her the latest line of household cleaning supplies. Are you kidding? My search led me to this? I was almost too much. This was a second rejection. Maybe I had expected too much. After all, what good can come from years of secrecy, lies, and shame?
Since that first phone conversation, I have spoken to my birthmother a number of other times. None of them were extremely pleasant. Once I got a frantic phone call at work from her demanding to know what I wanted. She criticized my parents, for telling me the truth about my adoption. Clearly, I was intended to be her dirty, little secret until the day she died. At times, she would call because she had discovered another member of the family had been in contact with me. Why couldn’t she just leave it alone? Why couldn’t she just tell me about my sibling or about the man who fathered me? She lied to me by telling me she has no other children. Paperwork I received from the adoption agency specifies she had a 2 year old son at the time she was pregnant with me, yet she refuses to acknowledge it. Other members of my birthfamily have attested they know nothing about her other child. Is that true or are they lying to keep my birthmother’s secret? Maybe she even has more children than they realize. After living a life of lies, you never know who you can and cannot trust. I will not stop looking for my brother. I only pray the end of my journey, doesn’t lead me to a grave. Whether or not he is a good man or a horrible human being, is irrelevant. As an adult, I deserve the chance to decide that for myself.
I haven’t spoken to my birthmother in over a year, and I have no intention of contacting her again soon. The very last thing I remember was wishing her a happy birthday. I send her a card for Thanksgiving, hoping my kindness would encourage her to treat me with the slightest amount of affection. I even wished her a happy birthday. I had hoped in doing so, she would call me a month later during mine. I guess I was wrong. I got another hysterical phone call. She had discovered a family member send me a photo though Facebook. She had only called to tell me to stay out of her business. I made a decision that same day. I could not continue to allow myself to keep getting hurt over and over again. I had to end it. At that moment I knew that this would be the last time I spoke with her.
When people ask me about her, I simply shake my head. Maybe it will take another 30 years before I allow myself to become that susceptible to the pain all over again. Lots of people might say to give her time. She is hurting. Why does it feel like everything is about her? Her secrecy still controls my right to know the truth. If adoption is supposed to be about the best interest of the child, why isn’t it? Of all parties involved, adoptees are the only ones who get no choice in our adoptions. What most non-adoptees and family members do not understand is that every day is a struggle. Although a few other family members have accepted me, I don’t know if I will ever feel like a true member of their family. The only thing worse than not having a family is having 2 families and feeling like a stranger in both of them. I will someday find my brother and my birthfather. I love it when people somewhat affectionately tell you not to search, because they don’t want you to get hurt. I think what most people don’t understand is that we’re already hurt. I do not regret my decision to search. It was one of the best decisions I have made. While most people I know discover who they are in high school or college, I have just begun to do so. None of this has been easy and I am sure more challenges will come, but I will continue to stay strong. No matter how much people try to understand you, they never will come close to knowing the lifelong trauma of being forced to grow up as someone you were not born to be.
V. Marie I am a reunited adoptee from Louisiana. I earned my B.A. in sociology from The University of New Orleans in 2005. My experience through adoption lead me to earn my M.A. in Community Counseling from Webster University in 2013.
I was adopted at 6 weeks old. My adoptive parents love me very much, but they weren't ready to deal with the challenges that came with an adopted child. They supported me my entire life, but they could not heal my pain. As I grew up, I began to see even more diffrences between my adoptive family and myself. I longed to know where I fit belonged. Around the year 2005, I began actively searching. I had doors slammed in my face and others who told me to give up and be grateful for what I had. I found my birthmother around 2012, and it was hardly the heartfelt reunion I had hoped for. However, I will not let that stop me from seeking the truth and searching for my birthfather and my brother. I have to be strong and keep going. The truth is that I was an unwanted baby. My birthmother made a conscience decision not to be a mother to her children. My birthfamily will never understand what I have gone though emotionally as an adopted person. I am still treated like an outsider by many of them. I have been fortunate to be welcomed by a handful of cousins. And although they have good intentions, they will never understand my loss and the pain I feel when I'm around them. I believe that adoption can a wonderful thing, but we have to remember that it doesn't without loss. What I yearn for most is to have a family of my own.