Monthly Archives: May 2013

#19 How Many Times

twiceMy biological mom called me occasionally which would put me on cloud nine as I have already described here. During these calls, she would always promise more frequent calls, letters or visits. She had good intentions, but unfortunately these promises rarely came to fruition. I became disheartened because there were important questions I had for her. No matter how many times she disappointed me, I would always believe with 100% certainty that she would deliver ‘this time.’ I wanted to prove my adoptive mom wrong about the things she was saying and the anxiety of being unable to do so, would ultimately cause sadness and depression as the days would go by and I realized each time that I had foolishly believed Gabriella again. In addition, anger was becoming my standard emotion; however, my adoptive mom didn’t allow the expression of anger. Her parenting style of squashing emotions resulted in my anger increasing (to the point of rage) and being directed solely at her.

Twice

Since I wasn’t able to ask Gabriella my questions, I once again asked my adoptive mom.

 

“So you got me at the hospital?” I wasn’t the best at getting into these conversations delicately sometimes.

My mom explained, “I got you at the hospital and we brought you home. I didn’t have a crib for you. I made a bed out of one of the dresser drawers and you fit perfectly.”

 

Immediately, I was angry. She didn’t even get me a crib.

 

Before I could start complaining about that though, she continued her story. “You lived here for three months and then Gabriella came back and got you. She said she was taking you with her to New Mexico so you left to go live with her. When you were 9 months old, I received a letter from Gabriella saying that if I wanted you, I could come and get you. This time I took papers with me for her to sign so she couldn’t get you back. I drove out to New Mexico in the middle of a snowstorm to get you. Gabriella’s husband’s mom, Helen, went with me.” She then launched into a detailed description of the snowstorm she had driven in.

 

I couldn’t believe she was focusing on the snow storm when I was being told I had been given up by my mother. TWICE.

 

I hoped there wasn’t a third time, but if there was, I wanted her to tell me now.

 

“I’ve been here since then?” I asked trying to find out if I was given up any other times.

 

“Yes,” she stated like she was baffled as to why I would think I hadn’t lived here since that point. “When I brought you back, you would play in the floor with your toys and it was cute because you played with one eye on your toys and one eye on me and if I walked out of the room, you would start crying. You definitely wanted me wherever you were.” She laughed about that.

 

“Why did I cry like that,” I asked.

 

My mom said, “I think they mistreated you. If you were eating a cracker, you would use the tip of your finger to pick up every last crumb of it. I don’t think they fed you enough because you always ate like you weren’t going to get any more food. They probably just left you alone in the bedroom most of the time.”

 

It seemed like a bad situation to be in for that baby. I didn’t see myself as the one that had gone through that. Also, I still didn’t understand the part about driving to New Mexico to get me. “Why did Helen go with you,” I asked.

 

My mom said, “Well, Gabriella’s husband, Jack, told her that that if he was going to stay with her, she had to give up the baby. He wasn’t your father and it’s not normal for men to take care of other men’s babies.”

 

“So she chose to be with her husband instead of keeping me,” I stated.

 

My mom said, “You shouldn’t feel that way. Your ‘real’ mom did what she thought was best for you so that you could have a good life.”

 

I thought about what she had told me. For the first time, I felt like I got more answers to explain what I was doing here, even if the answers weren’t pleasant. My mom wanted me but I was left with this thought: What had I done so wrong that my ‘real’ mom didn’t want me. Twice. I tried not to dwell on it, but obsessive thoughts came easily to me and these two thoughts kept competing for my attention, I had been wanted but not by my ‘real’ mom. It also made it harder to forgive the smaller things my ‘real’ mom had done such as not calling, writing and visiting more often.

 

Commentary

 

Adoptive parents sometimes mistake what information adopted children can handle. What we can handle is hearing about how and why we came to be adopted. If you know the story, tell us when we start asking. (But do not make up details you are not certain of to fill in the blanks.) Stop worrying about what we can ‘handle.’ We are adopted. We were there when it happened and deep down, the memories are still there. We know that it’s not the fairy tale everyone wants. It’s not going to shock us that the events that led to our adoption aren’t a sweet happy story. What we cannot deal with is new details and secrets that come out slowly over time.

 

How being adopted is like sex

 

If your four year old asks about the moon, you go buy books on the solar system to read him, search for information on the internet about moon facts, buy a solar system model to build and hang in his room and brag to all your friends about how advanced your child is.

 

If your four year old asks about his adoption story, you advise each other to only answer the question asked and NOT to provide any additional information. It’s the same reasoning with sex. What message are you sending when you do this? Are you telling him that his adoption story is something to be ashamed of and that he cannot ‘handle’ it? Are you are saying that being adopted should be whispers and secrets.

 What is more important, the solar system or his story?

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#17 Why I Stopped Accepting Gifts

noMy mom liked to go to auctions. She never really bought much. I think it was just a way she enjoyed passing time and getting out of the house. So occasionally I went with her. One particular Saturday, someone was selling these funny little beans in clear case and without doing anything, they would randomly jump. I thought they were funny and my mom informed me that they were called Mexican jumping beans. Once again, I never associated myself with the word ‘Mexican,” and couldn’t wait to show the kids at school. In fact, I showed them to anyone I came across. Later that same week, I was practicing for my dance recital and my mom said, “You’re a little Mexican jumping bean!” I stopped in my tracks.

 

I was starting to get antsy anytime somebody began a sentence with “You’re…”

“You’re adopted.” “You’re Mexican.” “You’re Indian.” “You’re charity.” I never knew what I was going to be told next about myself. 

 

Since we were on the subject, I decided to ask again about being Indian. “Are you sure I’m Indian,” I asked? My mom answered, “Yes, you’re Cherokee Indian.”

 

“What’s Cherokee?”

 

She replied that it was a certain tribe of Indian, but I didn’t feel like a part of a tribe any more than I felt Indian. It didn’t seem like me at all. I still felt as white as everyone around me.

 

My mom noticed how quiet I was and said, “That’s why your skin is so pretty. Girls tan all summer so that they can have skin that’s dark like yours. You’re lucky.”

 

I didn’t feel lucky. In fact, I felt pretty crappy. I didn’t want to be Cherokee Indian. I didn’t want to be Mexican. And I especially didn’t want to be charity. I hadn’t forgotten my mom’s recent comment about that at all.

 

Gifts

 

We were in Delaware on vacation and we were at the boardwalk going through all of the shops. There was a necklace in a case in one of the shops that caught my attention. It had a beautiful iridescent shell in the center of the pendent and I stood looking at it sparkling. My mom came up behind me and asked, “Do you want that?”

 

Of course I wanted it and I almost said yes immediately, but then I remembered all that I had been told recently. I thought about the fact that my mom had already done her charity by getting me and I didn’t want to take advantage. I didn’t want her to buy me gifts when she had already done so much.

 

“No.” I answered. I was still staring at the necklace.

“I will get it for you if you want it.” It seemed like she really wanted me to get it.

“No, thank you. I don’t want it,” I said trying to reassure her.

She gave up. “Okay, then.”

 

It was the same reason I stopped getting cokes at restaurants. My dad’s pet peeve was me ordering a drink and taking only a sip of it. He never got mad at me for anything, but this was just about the only exception. Once again, I remembered how much they had already done for me. “I’m not thirsty. I don’t want anything to drink,” became my standard response when ordering a meal. I didn’t want to be wasteful like he had lectured me about. I definitely wanted him to know how much I appreciated all he had done for me.  

 

Commentary

 

I don’t think my parents would have ever realized what I was thinking when I started turning down their offers. The thoughts and ideas that ran through my mind regarding being adopted probably never occurred to them. And I certainly never openly shared my thoughts. Even to my dad who I considered my best friend. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

At a very early age, I learned to choose my words carefully and thoughtfully to avoid hurting others. It was certainly difficult, but necessary.