So, it’s been several months since I’ve written. I would like to say it’s because most days being adopted has no impact on my life whatsoever, and I don’t even think about it. But, that would not be true. I mean, yeah, some days being adopted means nothing more than I have lots of parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, cousins, etc. But that’s not why I haven’t written. I haven’t written because…
It all started in mid summer. My (adoptive) dad had a heart attack and needed to have stents placed in a couple of arteries. That was…weird. My dad has been really healthy for my entire life, so it was odd to see him in a hospital bed with wires and machines and all. But I didn’t realize how vulnerable it made me feel until I contacted my (natural) dad to give him an update and he said that he’d been really sick too. My (natural) dad has Type 1 Diabetes, so not feeling well is part of the daily routine most of the time, but this was different, and I knew it. Both dads are…mortal. Not good. Not good. After a few weeks of feeling out of sorts over the whole thing, both dads began recovering and I felt less vulnerable. But then this happened…
Over the course of a few weeks of mindless television watching, I heard the following phrase (or an equivalent) at least three times – “I would be okay with adopting kids, but I want the first one to be from us….” And there it is! The disappointing reminder that the “chosen” narrative isn’t quite as nice and neat as we all want to think in the world of adoption. I have thought (and thought) about the right way to explain this, and all I can conjure is a grade school narrative. At times, adoption feels to me like being chosen last on the playground only to end up on the winning team. I mean, it’s cool I get to be on the winning team, but it still stinks not to be picked first. And while I was blessed with a wonderful family in my adoption experience, I still wasn’t picked first – by either of my families, in fact – so it still sucks when I’m reminded. Don’t get me wrong, I’m cool with the fact that an individual knows he/she wants to have biological children before adopting. I am even more cool with the fact that they will acknowledge it and not try to act like having biological children doesn’t matter to them. And it’s my fault I over-think everything about my experience. But it still stinks. And I was going to write about it a couple of months ago, until…
I often read old posts before I begin a new one. Helps me see if I’m covering new ground or re-hashing old material. So, when I began to write about being “chosen,” I read a bit and began feeling exposed, I guess. I’m sure that those of you who read this blog, but don’t know me, have no idea how hard it is for me to write anything about thoughts/feelings of a personal nature. It’s like torture. I guard ME with fierce intensity. So, coming off of feeling vulnerable and disappointed, exposed was just too much. So, I’ve been quiet. Hiding behind the wall I’ve built over time. And not just on here. I’ve withdrawn in other aspects of my life because that’s what I do when I feel exposed.
But I began this blog for a reason. And that reason was to share my thoughts as an adoptee in hopes that others can see things in a new way. And I can’t do that if I refuse to write. So, here I am…having felt vulnerable, disappointed, and exposed. And now you know. And it pains me to have told you, but I hope someone can read this and say, “Yeah, I’ve felt that too” and maybe that commonality will make them feel better.
9 thoughts on “Vulnerable, Disappointed, Exposed”
I have often heard “I want to have my OWN child.” It makes me wonder who I actually belong to.. my biological mother who gave me up or my adoptive parents? I guess I belonged to my adoptive parents. I was their “own” but arrived differently. It’s confusing.
I have to say knowing some of my biological siblings but never knowing my biological parents has been strange.
I feel absolutely nothing for them other than curiosity. I want to know about this person who had me. I want to know how they felt. Speaking to them makes me thankful for being given away and I miss my adoptive parents and the childhood they gave me even more.
I understand the torture of sharing feelings. I remain distant from everyone emotionally. I simply cannot openly talk about my feelings to anyone.
There were times I felt left out of my adoptive family. I was the only one adopted. I also was left out of my
Biological family. I was the only one given up for adoption.
All these parents are dead and gone. I guess we end up belonging only to ourselves.
Sorry for the rambling. Watching families at holiday times makes me feel strangely….
Thank you for sharing this. Confusing can be an understatement at times for sure!!
Becky, I just read this and so many thoughts are going through my mind that I cannot sort them out right now! However, I will be thinking about this and will give a better reply when all this thoughts can be written down in an understandable way. My one thought that might help you and each one of us is just be thankful for everything and for the good life you have had and enjoy every minute of every day, because life is precious, fleeting and a gift from God.
Thanks for sharing Becky! I have been following your posts as an adoptive mom to get more insight into the pain and struggles of my 3 daughters. So helpful because you are so real. Sorry about both of your Dads. Having ill parents or losing a parent really stops you in your tracks for a while. Adding the adoption dimension into there with more people in your life must make it even more confusing. Pulling away is a normal emotion and it takes work and effort to step back in the arena of life. Thanks for sharing!
Also – would love to share some cool resources that I use in my life coaching business. I am certified in Brene Brown’s work on shame and think it hits the adoption community on all sides. You thinking that you are not enough and I struggle with thinking that I am not enough as a mom when my kids pull away or struggle. Shame is yucky and sends us backwards. Brene gives practices to become more wholehearted and it starts with vulnerability! Like what you are doing when you write. Here are some cool resources for you and all your readers. http://www.courageworks.com/shop/classes, https://www.ownlifeclasses.com/pages/brene-brown and http://brenebrown.com. Thanks again for sharing!
Thanks, Jeanette, for the kind, encouraging words and the resources. I’ve heard others speak about Brene Brown – guess it’s time to check her out.
My sister and I were put in foster care by our biological mother when we were about 10-11 and 7-8 years old, respectively. The 2 strongest memories I have from before we were put in foster care was seeing my mother walk to the phone in the dining room and call and say she was putting us up for adoption – very odd that I would remember this moment, I think – the next one was being in an office and following my father out to the stairway and watching him hurry down the stairs sobbing and sobbing – and me thinking “why is Daddy crying”?
I remember no close feelings for my birth mother and have never wanted to find her but I wanted to find my birth father from time to time since my teens but it was nearly impossible to do anything about it. I just wanted him to know we were alright. I remember him being a very loving, kind father.
God is good and a few years ago – purely out of the blue, the thought came to me to search online using my mother’s first name and my sister and my name – but my birth first name – not the one it changed to during our adoption. I found an old Ancestry.com entry where someone was searching for their cousins and we fit the description exactly. After some effort to find the connection, we finally spoke on the phone and have been so happy to meet a couple of cousins on our birth father’s side. One of them said that the family living in southern IL thought that our mother had us all those years and would not let our father see us. They had no idea we had been adopted.She said that she knew that our grandmother and aunts/uncles on our Dad’s side would have gladly had us come to live with them. The cousin that did the search knew our birth father very well, because he lived with them for a time and she was very close to him. Again, a very kind, loving, gentle man. Both my parents had passed away before I made these connections.
I am so thankful that my sister and I were kept together but it is very odd that I do not remember us ever talking about our parents. To this day, it is very uncomfortable to start up a conversation about our memories during those years,
I remember the day that our adopted parents went to court for the adoption and our birth mother and probably her attorney took us to lunch and another outing in Chicago. My sister was so mad she would not speak to my mother, would not walk with us and ordered the most expensive things on the menu on purpose. Oddly enough, the judge asked us where we wanted to go – to be adopted by the foster family we were with or to live with the “2 spinster sisters” of my birth mother. Looking back on it now, I wonder if that was intentionally described as a very negative option by our adopted parents – and it might have been, I guess. I also think that the judge offered this because he was “encouraged” to do so by connections from our adopted mother’s family – you know Chicago politics in the 60s, right? We chose our foster parents.
Our adoptive family was good to us – but, looking back, I think they were just looking for daughters to help around the house and take care of them when they get older. My sister and I never felt unconditionally loved – there were always expectations and a cold shoulder if you did not make them happy.
When I was in high school my mother never went to any of my choir concerts, saying that she would if I had a solo. She also told my sister not to try out for cheerleading because she would not make it anyway and would not let her join the high school soccer team because our mother did not drive and did not want to make the arrangements for transportation. We were good, respectful kids – just hurting in ways even we did not understand and our parents really did not try to understand. Their perspective was that we should just be grateful and forget about our adoption, etc. I would bring gifts home to my mother if I went out during high school, because she would be upset with me for going out and not being there to help her pass the time. My father just sat and watched TV shows that she did not enjoy anyway.
What is odd to me is that the older I get, the more I seem to feel depressed about all of these things. I take medication and go to counseling, but the first time I cried about it was about a month ago.
I guess I have always felt that I should be grateful for being adopted, which I am – but what about parents that give away their children at our age for no reason provided – other than “they got divorced and it’s too hard”? I would do anything rather than give my kids up – work 2 jobs, etc. That is an excuse, not a reason.
The other thing that I am tired of hearing is stories of young people getting intimate and acting like they had no idea that they could get pregnant so they did the “sacrificial” thing by giving the child up for adoption. I think the sacrifice might have come sooner by abstaining until you know you can and want to take care of any children that might come from that or at least use birth control. We are expected to feel sorry for them – I’m sorry but I do not. Take responsibility for your actions. I remember doing that in high school. When a boyfriend wanted to move further along, I would think about the possibility of getting pregnant and drew the line. I knew that the mother is the one whose life stops and the father can just move on.
I have watched several of the Long Lost Family shows and I have to say it was very comforting to see that all of the adoptees struggled with the same feelings that I do – feeling unwanted and just wanting to know what happened. The birth parents are protected but not the children. That is just not right. I have been able to get a copy of my real birth certificate from the State of Illinois but trying to find out what happened to lead to the adoption is impossible! I cannot even find out which agency was used – or maybe it was just a lawyer to lawyer thing, per the above “connections”.
One thing I am really grateful for is that our adoptive parents took us to church. I started reading the Bible when I was in high school and through the indirect testimony of some of my friends in high school, I found my best Friend in Jesus – “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.
I don’t want to live with this kind of sadness underneath all the time but I do not know how to shake it. I listen to stories of people who have reconnected with their birth parents and it does seem to bring some closure to them. Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to do that so I will have to find another way – or just live with it and look for the joy in every day, as I do my best to do now. I have a husband and 2 daughters who love me (and 2 grandson puppies) and, again, I am glad that God kept my sister and me together.
On a positive note (finally, right?) – I personally know of 2 families who have adopted children – not as a last resort – but purposefully. They surround their children with unconditional love – accompanied with the appropriate discipline and firmness when needed. I am so happy that there are people like that – that see a greater purpose for themselves and do not feel like they are “settling” for second best. One of these families adopted 3 siblings under 5 from a homeless situation. It has been exhausting for them but they have had a lot of support and help from family and friend and those children are THRIVING! That is definitely a God inspired family.
To close this very long post, I think I wanted to share my feelings so that others may not feel alone. Although family and friends are patient and understanding if I talk about these things, I know they cannot relate and sometimes seem to indirectly communicate that – ok, we talked about these things, it’s over – you are in a good place now – why are you still sad.
I have a hope – one day I know the sadness will be gone and I will be with my heavenly Father forever and have new adventures for all eternity. This I believe with all my heart.
Thank you, Sharon, for gifting us with your story. I believe there is power in sharing our thoughts and feelings, not just for ourselves but also for those who will read them.
Thank you for sharing bc I have definitely felt like the last one picked throughout my life and have been keeping it to myself a lot for the same reason. But I really appreciate your vulnerability