Monthly Archives: April 2013

#12 Why Couldn’t My ‘Real’ Mom Take Care of Me?

WHY12As I got to my school classroom one morning, two kids, April and Ben, came over to me. This wasn’t the norm because I wasn’t that great at making friends. I was pretty excited to see what they wanted. They weren’t interested in being friends though, they wanted some answers. Answers to questions, that I either hadn’t yet thought of, or hadn’t been brave enough to ask.

April asked, “Why are you adopted?” Ben followed that question up with, “Yeah, how come you don’t live with your ‘real’ mom?”

I tried to answer with what I had been told. “My ‘real’ mom couldn’t take care of me, so my mom adopted me because she wanted a little girl.” This wasn’t enough for these two. April immediately asked, “Why couldn’t your ‘real’ mom take care of you?”

These questions were making me feel uncomfortable, but I didn’t want the kids to go away either. I thought maybe we could be friends. Fortunately, the teacher told everyone to sit down so that class could begin and they left to go to their seats.

As the day went on, I kept thinking about what my ‘friend’ April had asked. ‘Why?” Not why was I adopted. I needed to know why my ‘real’ mom couldn’t take care of me. I decided to ask my mom.

Later that week, my mom and I were sitting at the kitchen counter eating dinner. I took the opportunity to ask her the big question. Why?

“Why couldn’t my ‘real’ mom take care of me?” There was no working into it casually this time. I wanted answers so I could tell my friends what they wanted to know.

As usual, my mom didn’t seem mad at me for asking. She said, “Well, she already had two little girls to take care of and she couldn’t take care of another one.”

“But, why couldn’t she?” I still didn’t understand.

This time my mom seemed a little more annoyed. “Because,” she answered. “Sometimes that’s just how it is. Babies are a lot of work and they cost a lot of money. She just didn’t have it. She wanted you to have a good life so she gave you to me.” My mom’s voice softened as she said the last part. Her voice got almost chipper as she continued, “You should be happy. You’re lucky! Don’t you think you have a pretty good life here?”

“Yes,” I answered a little timidly. “I’m happy.” I wanted to assure her that I was. I didn’t mean to make her think I didn’t love my family and living here. I did. I just needed some answers for my friends. And myself. I wasn’t sure I had really gotten the answers though.

I kept trying to imagine my ‘real’ mom tired from the work of babies and poor from no money. She didn’t seem like that the times I had seen her. She seemed so beautiful, and had nice clothes. She also didn’t seem tired. She was always happy to see me.

I couldn’t make the two images match.

I wasn’t sure that I wanted to share this story about my ‘real’ mom with my friends when they asked why I was adopted. I didn’t know if I wanted to tell them about my poor, tired ‘real’ mom. I decided to focus on the ‘good life’ part of the story when my friends asked questions. I would just tell everyone how lucky I was to have such a good life. I thought it would make my ‘real’ mom seem nice and I knew it would make my mom happy. I figured it’s what would be best for both of them.

I set out to share how happy and lucky I was. But on the inside, I was sad. Sad that my ‘real’ mom had felt so tired and poor. Sad that I couldn’t be with her and my sisters. And sad that I couldn’t just be happy like my mom said.


I hadn’t thought of asking these questions, but plenty of other people didn’t mind to put me on the spot and ask. The answers weren’t easy to come by either. My parents wanted to focus on the positive, but that didn’t answer the very tough question of ‘why.’ And when the answers didn’t make sense, it became very easy to start blaming myself. ‘It must be my fault.’ ‘I must have been bad.’

All the sweet sayings and expressions in the world such as “you grew in my heart, not in my tummy” won’t take away the hurt, pain and inability to understand why.

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#9 Family Pictures

Flowers9   I wouldn’t have to wait long. A few days later, my mom said that my ‘real’ mom and sisters would be coming back. This was going to be a day out though. We were going shopping and out to eat.


They showed up again and Gabriella looked as beautiful as ever. My sisters were definitely ready to play with my toys but thankfully, we had to leave to go eat. I was excited to show them the cool paper pirate hats we were going to get at the seafood restaurant. I thought they would be impressed. Sadly, they were already familiar with this restaurant and quickly ran up to the counter. They had their hats on before I even made it through the door.


I wondered what it was going to take to impress these two? Sisters weren’t turning out exactly as I had planned all those times I had wished for them. They were quicker than me. They were smarter than me. And they had my ‘real’ mom. They were starting to annoy me. Especially Tori.


Tori was exactly a year and half older than me and she had a big personality. She was quick witted. She might as well have been ten years older than me. It was like I was the child and she was the parent. She bossed me around. She told me what to do. And if I argued with her, she didn’t mind to get physical and let me know that I had to do what she said. When we were getting along, she was the most fun playmate I had ever had. When we weren’t getting along, it was torture. I still wanted to be around her, until I would get tired of it. But soon after, I wanted to be around her again. I was so drawn to her personality and loudness. But it was the same thing that would turn me off.


My oldest sister Lacey was much quieter. It’s what made her endearing yet harder to get to know at the same time. She seemed like she had a quiet self assurance about herself. She could have been the wisest person I had ever met. She had a curious personality. She wanted to know about things but didn’t have the same loudness as Tori. Lacey was like a butterfly that I could get close to, but never quite capture. She was a lot older than me. Four years older. She seemed interested, but not overly so, about me.


As the afternoon wore on, we went to a local department store. I focused on Gabriella. Her voice was amazing and she kept my attention. I wanted to hear her voice as much as possible so I asked her question after question.


I was in the cart and she had her back to me. All I could see was her beautiful dark hair down her back. While she had her back to me, I took her hair and tied it around the edge of the cart. I wanted to keep her, and thus began years of me trying to keep her to myself.


The Dresses


At the store, we purchased material. My mom liked to sew and made a lot of my clothes for me. She said that we were going to make dresses. The dresses would all match each other and be for my sisters and me.


I was elated at this idea. Anything that involved all of us matching each other was just fine with me. So my mom, my ‘real’ mom, my sisters and I spent a few afternoons that week making the dresses. The dresses were red. There was white lace trim at the collar and the lace decorated the front of the dress. The sleeves were complete lace. I thought they were beautiful. After the dresses were made, we went to have our pictures done at the department store.


My ‘real’ mom, my sisters and I were in the picture. I loved it. I couldn’t be happier than looking at this picture of all of us smiling. It was perfect. In the front were my two sisters. Lacey was directly in front of me and Tori was in front of my ‘real’ mom. I stood next to my ‘real’ mom. I loved getting to be next to her in the picture. We both had long dark hair that matched exactly.


Staring at this picture was the best thing I could think of doing after receiving it. We looked like family.


But then I looked at our family picture that hung on the wall at home. There I was in the picture, but with a different family. I felt confused as to as to who my genuine ‘real’ family was.


I seemed to fit into the family picture of my ‘real’ mom and sisters. But I also fit into this other family picture. I wanted both but felt torn in choosing who my ‘real’ family was.


I was jealous each time my ‘real’ mom and sisters would all leave together. She had my sisters and they had her. I craved time with them and would yearn for the next time I would see them and then feel let down each time they left. The twisted highs and lows of this pattern would last for years.


I have never doubted that my mom thought it would be good for me to have my bio mom and sisters in my life. I think she wanted me to know them and be part of their life. She promoted it. I really don’t know what drove her to feel this way about it. She never seemed jealous at all. I sometimes wonder if it made her feel better by having me know them.

The problem is that it must have made her feel better, but I felt worse. I have established that my mom wasn’t much to dwell on feelings, but that left me without an outlet of being able to express my heartache.

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#8 Meeting My ‘Real’ Mom & Sisters

Flower8   I was busy working on the final touches of interior decoration in my room and trying to make it perfect for my ‘real’ mom and sisters. Finally, I heard my mom announce that they were here. I was excited but tried to act calm. I didn’t want to scare them away.

I ran to my little table my mom had set up for coloring that was right in the door way and sat down and started coloring. I wanted my sisters to know that I was fun and they would have fun coloring with me.

We had a sliding glass door and on sunny days, we kept the curtain closed over it to keep the sun out if it was really bright. This was one of those days so the curtains had been closed all morning. As my ‘real’ mom and sisters walked up to the door, my mom drew back the curtains and slid the door open, and there they were.

I blinked several times adjusting to the light. The brightness flooded the room and my emotions flooded me. I experienced pure joy. My ‘real’ mom was gorgeous. She had beautiful long dark hair that flowed down her back. She was smiling. Her name was Gabriella.

My two sisters were also beautiful. They were smiling too. The oldest one was named Lacey and the younger one was Tori. Lacey had long dark hair and her eyes sparkled when she smiled. Tori had long hair that was lighter in color and looked golden in the light. Her smile was contagious.

As they entered the door, there was brightness all around them. All three of them paused just long enough for me to take a snapshot in time that I will forever keep.

With a smile on her face, my ‘real’ mom said “Hi, Meredith,” and in that moment I fell in love. This wasn’t like falling in love with the dumb canopy bed. This was deeper. Somehow, she had just walked into my home, but I felt like ‘home’ had just come to me. She had the most warm, inviting voice that I had ever heard. It was the first time I ever liked hearing the sound of my own name.

She immediately came over to me, knelt down and asked me what I was doing. I showed her the sheets I had colored and she said she loved them. I wanted to crawl into her arms and stay there forever. But I knew my mom was standing a few feet away and I didn’t want to make her mad.

As captivated as I was with my ‘real’ mom and her voice, I was eager to get to my sisters.  They were still standing near the door and my mom was talking to them. She was taking their jackets and asking how they were doing. I couldn’t hold back any longer so I got up and went over to where they were standing. My mom suggested I show them my room, so I led them out of the dining room and into my room.

As we entered my room, I tried to point out various things they could look at, but they started taking toys off the shelf and messing things up. I tried to play with them, but it was difficult. I wanted them to do what I had planned. This had never been a problem before. Kids usually played with whatever I brought outside to play with, but my sisters weren’t following my lead. If it was in my room, they wanted to touch it, and see it, and play with it. I thought I had been clear about coloring. That was the planned activity of the day.

I was torn between staring at my ‘real’ mom and trying to control the chaos that was going on in my room. By the end of the afternoon, I was wiped out.

I thought it had been relatively successful. I had finally met my ‘real’ mom but I knew I wanted more. I craved her. I wanted to see her more. I wanted to hear her voice. I wanted her.

But she left with my sisters and I didn’t go with them. My room was a mess and so was I. In reality, not only had this experience left my room upside down, it had made my whole world upside down. I had so many questions, but nobody asked much about how I felt about it, so I took to mostly complaining about my sisters. Then I channeled what was left of my energy and emotions into cleaning up my room. I also realized I needed a better plan for the next time they came over.


Watching my bio mom and sisters waltz in and out of my life at will was soul crushing. Each and every time.

Think about that for a moment. Try to imagine seeing your mother and siblings together as a family and for reasons that you cannot yet (if ever) understand, you cannot be with them. If it is hard for you to imagine as an adult, think about what that does to a child.