The Adoption Experience; You Never Outgrow It
Last Saturday, I went to the monthly meeting of Adoptees MN. I’ve been meaning to attend a meeting for the past six months but something always came up. The meetings last ninety minutes, plus an hour driving time. That seemed like more personal time than I could afford to give up.
But every day I’ve been running to the mailbox to see if I have a response from the court about my request for my original birth certificate (OBC). And every day that I don’t receive an answer, I get more and more frustrated and pissed off. At this point in my life, it seems insane that I have to go through this wait to get a record of MY birth.
During the course of my OBC effort, I noticed that my post adoption birth certificate was issued one year, four months and one week after I was born. What the ?! That probably doesn’t mean much to anyone else, but it’s damn freaky to me.
Back to the Adoptees MN meeting… I decided I kind of needed to go.
Only four other people showed up, which they said was unusual, but was possibly because a lot of high school students were having their graduation parties so people were busy. It was actually best for me that there were so few people there as it was less overwhelming, and there was more time to get to know just a few individuals and ask questions.
It was so good to talk to people who could relate to my experience and were able to confirm that what I’m going through and feeling is “normal.”
I’m amazed I’m still affected by something that happened over sixty years ago, but I am. My emotions around adoption are more on the surface right now. That’s probably because of the birth certificate challenge and discovering that my book is more about being adopted than I thought it was going to be.
Being adopted was supposed to only be part of the backstory. Instead, separation from my birth parents, the secrets surrounding adoption, and the screwed up sense of identity that results seem to be the main theme.
Conversations with a friend have helped me better understand the experience of birth mothers. I knew it had to be a traumatic experience but didn’t understand that the effects are just as complex and ongoing for the birth mom as the effects that I’ve been carrying around.
The following points aren’t true for all birth mothers, but they are true for way too many, especially before open adoption became more common:
- There’s the loss of a child that the mother has carried for nine months and given birth to.
- There’s the expectation that the woman who has lost her baby will carry on as if the whole pregnancy and birth never happened, even though her body is still in “baby mode.”
- There’s the abuse of the system that handles the adoption.
- There’s the effect the pregnancy and adoption has on the mother’s relationship with her family.
- There’s the weight of “the secret” that everyone involved in the adoption carries.
- There’s how the adoption continues to affect how a woman feels about herself and the people and world around her. She will live the rest of her life based on lessons she’s learned about trust, betrayal, the lack of say or control she had in the decision, and the experience of suffering a loss that no one wants to talk about or, perhaps. even allow her to grieve.
While talking to my friend, she said, we don’t even allow people to adopt kittens or puppies until they’ve at least been weaned. And yet we remove babies soon after birth and put them into the care of a foster home or children’s home until an adoptive family is found and approved.
I had never thought about that before, but I sure think about it now…
I met my birth mom but never really got to know her very well. I struggle to communicate with people even when they are good conversationalists and are carrying most of the conversation load. If I’m trying to talk to someone who is hard of hearing, nervously flitting around, unable to sit still, and who seems so fragile, both physically and mentally, that I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing, you might as well forget it.
And yet I did observe who she was every once in a while. The woman who loved to sing and dance and who told the most unbelievable stories about herself (who knows how much was true).
But I also saw the woman who could fly into rages, seemingly from out of the blue.
I don’t know if the knowledge I have now would have made any difference in our relationship. I would still have been up against the huge wall of fear both of us carried and that stood between us.
It won’t make much sense to anyone else, but I feel that getting my real birth certificate will somehow help. I’ll be able to see and hold a piece of that beginning with my birth parents.
I expect that the grief I have felt over losing them at the start and then again when they died will rise up in me again. But I think that will be a good thing. Because I’m now at a point in my life where I have given myself permission to feel what I feel even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else.
*You can hover over the photos to bring up captions.