When I was about thirteen or fourteen, a family friend’s daughter, M, got pregnant. She and I were never really close despite our mothers being friends. She got involved with a man from a Muslim country. She got pregnant in the sand dunes of a gorgeous beach. I remember my adoptive mother coming home with the incredible urge to discuss both sex and adoption. If I ever wanted to have sex, then I was to promptly tell her. She would get me some protection. If I ever wanted to search, I was again promptly told that I was to come to her. I was stunned and honestly terrified. I have never been a good one to confront my own emotions concerning my adoption. It scared me to delve that far into my soul. It still does to go that deep. It represents too much pain for me. I know however that it is the last stone that I must uncover to understand me and my daughter.
Years later, I actually dated a fellow adoptee. He even cheated on me. He lied to me about his other girlfriend. I think he has now married her. Its funny. I didn’t tell him my story until after we broke up. I asked him many a question about being found. It was then that I heard a song by Michelle Wright. The tears just flowed that night. The song was called “He would be sixteen.” The song made me wonder about her. It was the start of my awakening. During this time, I also met my first natural mother. She was a girl that I went to high school with. She was in an open adoption with the adoptive parents of her son. What that meant of course was she got pictures every year. She even showed me a picture. I had run into her at a Alanon meeting. My step father was an alcoholic. I think now that the codependency that I went through during that time was my adoption issues manifesting themselves.
Why are codependency and adoptee issues so similiar? Here I was in college trying to understand who I was and where I was going. I stumbled upon Alanon. Its funny when I was doing my fourth step. That is when you take a moral inventory of yourself. My sponsor asked me very pointedly about my adoption. I shrugged it off. Looking back and having found the five characteristics of codependency which are:
1) Self- Esteem: either thining they’re less than everybody else or they think they’re better than everyone else. Always examining social situations to see if they are better or worse than those in their midst.
2) Reality: not being able to identify who you are in the moment, which includes not knowing one or all of these at a given time:
a) your body: what your body is doing
b) your thoughts: what you are thinking
c) your behavior: what you are doing or not doing
d) your feelings: what you are feeling
3) Moderation: all of these can be seen in early childhood. A co-dependant person is either needy or needless/wantless (which she also clarified happens when a child parents the parent, they become the needless/wantless).
It’s harder to get rid of the needless/wantless version of co-dependancy because they are getting their needs met by themselves and they have to risk not having a need met by asking and trusting someone else to meet that need.
4) Adult needs & wants: not being able to distinguish between a need & want, and not being able to understand what an adult need is, since they were stunted in childhood due to abuse/abandonment/neglect
5) boundaries: external AND internal
external…well, pretty self explanatory…i decide who/what/when i will be touched or touched sexually
After reading over these, I realize that codependency has some very similiar characteristics of adoption issues. For years I couldn’t distinguish between a need and want. I had no boundaries. I didn’t know how to create them let alone have them. Being a closed era adoptee, I don’t know who I am. How can I know? I am told to be happy and grateful that I was adopted. Every other non adopted person knows the heritage. They know their path thus they can forge ahead. I have always felt that I was stuck in my life. That I can’t move on. If I have an issue with someone or something, I chew and chew on it. Its hard for me to get past things. If someone has hurt me, I become obsessed. I want to hurt them as they have hurt me. I think that does stem from being abused by my step father. I find myself in this situation now. It has taken all my restraint, determination, and discipline to keep my calm and not just flame the crap out of this individual.
What is really bad is if I don’t defend myself then I turn it on myself. I find that if I can’t express myself in a healthy manner then I attack myself. Adoptees walk a fine line. Some can walk far away from that edge and they are okay. Others can’t. Its a constant battle for us. I think this is when we abandon people around us. We are the walking wounded sometimes. I feel this way about once sometimes twice a month. I have heard that there is an increased rate of suicide amongst adoptees. I can see that honestly. I have walked around with this huge guilt complex. I just can’t shake it now matter how hard I try. Is it because I feel guilty that I am alive? Is it because I caused this heartache with my natural mother? Is it my fault that my mother had to relinquish me? It will always be that question for me. I can’t ever ask that question because of the sealed laws in Indiana.
My relationships were always turbulent. I was always walking out. I had met friends who were adopted. I always asked questions about their reunion. I was lucky enough to meet the man I would marry. Our marriage has been rocky especially in the beginning. My mother and sisters controlled me pretty good. For years I was treated like I could not make a proper decision. That I couldn’t be trusted with my decisions. My mother was not happy with my choice. Looking back and wondering about my own natural father, I wonder what he was like. Was he a cowboy? Was he a hard working blue collar worker? What was his story?
We got married when I was three months pregnant. I was dragging my feet on getting married. Marriage scared the hell out of me. I couldn’t run away as I had done in the past. Part of it was his past. Part of it was mine with what I did know and didn’t know. Well my daughter was born at the end of that year.
It was then that I met my first “baby scoop era” mother. I worked for a city secretary. Our department was in charge of death and birth certificates. I began poking around the laws concerning those little pieces of paper. The city treasurer knew of my interest in the law. She also knew that I was adopted. I was not adopted in that state though. I eventually left that office. I was only a temporary clerk. She wanted to be kept advised of my due date. Well I went into labor on that cool morning in December. I called her after I had my daughter. She came the next day. She held my daughter as if she were her own grandbaby. She was oohing and ahhing over her. She asked me a question that led to the topic of adoption. I mentioned that I was adopted. She asked me if I had ever searched. I said no but I would eventually. She tells me quietly that she is a birthmother. I asked her the same question back. If she had ever searched. In a pain wrenching voice, she felt like she didn’t have the right to search. In that quiet moment, I was her lost child and she was my lost natural mother. It was one of the many baby steps to the defogging. I always think of her. Always. She who is now lost is always in my heart. Two weeks after the birth of my daughter, I found out the first doctor that I had had been arrested for black market baby dealing and drugs. I honestly think that night he was high on cocaine (that was his drug of choice). We had to use forceps to ease my daughter out. I thank God every day that he didn’t deliver her.
With my daughter’s birth, I first began poking around into my own adoption. I had a cancer scare. My own adoptive mother began pushing me into searching. I got my first non identifying paperwork. Back then it was more information. Now they don’t give that kind of information. Its just the basics. It was 275.00 dollars to have the agency contact. I didn’t have that kind of money. Besides we were still moving from ranch to ranch. We were just floating through life until we moved to our current address. I resigned from a high paying job. That is where the fun began.
Chapter four later
Unknown Indy Baby Girl
Filed under: Adoptee | Tagged: Adoptee, Adoption, birthmother, natural mother | Leave a comment »